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Vote delayed on seeking funding for Urban Shield

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Supervisor Malia Cohen, who recently became chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, put the brakes Tuesday on the vote to authorize applying for homeland security grants this year amid concerns about how Alameda County uses funding for providing Urban Shield, a disaster response and terrorism training program which critics say promotes the militarization of local law enforcement and unjust force against those engaged in civil disobedience.

San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management serves as the oversight agency in applying for and distributing the federal homeland security grant funding for 12 counties.

Cohen noted that prior to the board’s vote the proposal was amended to address some of the concerns, such as discouraging funding for Urban Shield and prioritizing other public safety needs.

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But she said they couldn’t outright prohibit it.

As for the delay, Cohen said, she has been trying to reach out to all 12 counties and has yet to discuss the matter with the Alameda County sheriff, who she said she would be contacting. The board is set to vote on applying for the funding on Feb. 28.

Not discussed was President Donald Trump’s threat to punish sanctuary cities like San Francisco by cutting their federal funding if they continue to have policies in place protecting undocumented immigrants from federal immigration officials. City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sued over the president’s executive order.

Last year, San Francisco and the region received $22.4 million in homeland security grants. San Francisco alone spent $3.4 million, including $2.6 million for some 39 city staff positions in departments like police and fire.

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