Congress

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 Today Reps. Val Demings, Darren Soto, and Stephanie Murphy announced that Orlando will again be the recipient of a major terror-prevention and preparedness grant under the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). This year’s award follows a new methodology and will total between $2.8 and $3.5 million.

Orlando’s inclusion in the program was restored in 2018 after a multi-year drought, following strong advocacy by Central Florida’s congressional delegation—Reps. Demings, Murphy, and Soto.

Said Rep. Demings, “This Valentine’s Day announcement is great news as we work to keep Central Florida safe. Having the safety and shield of well-trained, well-prepared first responders is what has allowed Orlando to become a haven for business, art, culture, tourism, and innovation. It brings me great joy to know that everyone in our community can enjoy the tremendous opportunities and joys of living in this thriving region as we continue to grow.

“After seeing every level of community safety in Orlando, from midnight patrols to Chief of Police, I know how important this federal support is to our law enforcement’s ability to be proactive against possible threats. As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Orlando’s re-inclusion in the UASI program has been a highlight of our work in Congress and we will continue to advocate for this critical funding.

Said Rep. Murphy, “As a top tourist destination, the Orlando area is vulnerable to acts of terrorism that endanger the lives of residents and visitors alike. That’s why our congressional delegation fought so hard to ensure Orlando received this critical funding. I will keep working to bring home federal dollars that increase public safety and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our community safe.”

Said Rep. Soto, “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of Central Floridians. We are extremely grateful to be approved for funding this year under Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, which will aid us in funding programs focused on terror-prevention and preparedness. The people of Orlando have felt firsthand the impact of extreme tragedies perpetrated by those seeking to create panic and fear, and we are determined to use this funding to eliminate such instances wherever possible.”

Background

The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) provides funding to help with terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas that could be targeted. Orlando received $3.25 million in 2019 and $1.5 million in 2018. Prior to this, Orlando was excluded from the program starting in 2014.

President Trump’s budget request for 2021 cuts UASI and other law enforcement preparedness grants significantly, which would leave our communities less safe.

Rep. Demings serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. Rep. Demings previously criticized the decision to leave Orlando off the list. As Orlando’s former Chief of Police, Rep. Demings previously oversaw the use of UASI funding by OPD.

The final funding figure for this year will total between $2.8 and $3.5 million, with the final figure based on the alignment of local programs to the four national priority areas:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Soft targets/crowded places
  3. Intelligence and information sharing
  4. Emerging threats

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