Central Florida representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto announced today that Orlando will receive $1.5 million in anti-terrorism funding under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program. This is the first time since 2014 that Orlando will receive UASI funding and the most funding the city will receive under the program since 2012. The federal grant follows months of advocacy efforts by the three central Florida representatives, who were successful in getting DHS to revise its allocation formula to more fairly weigh factors like the number of daily visitors, high-profile events, and so-called “soft” targets.
“Thank goodness, this year our tireless advocacy has finally paid off. Every one of us, and every visitor to central Florida, should feel safe while enjoying a day of fun or work, a night of entertainment, or a morning of worship,” said Demings. “When Orlando first received UASI funding, I oversaw its use as Orlando’s Chief of Police. Now, as Orlando’s representative on the Homeland Security Committee, I am grateful and relieved that the Department of Homeland Security has revised the formula to consider all that Orlando has to offer, and accurately respect the security challenges in America’s most-visited city. As a former law enforcement officer and proud Orlando resident, I will continue to work in a bipartisan way, as well as with our state and local partners, to advocate on the Homeland Security Committee to make sure that Orlando has every tool it needs to stay safe.”
“Protecting our families and communities must always be a top priority. As one of the nation’s most popular destinations, Orlando needs and deserves federal support to keep residents and visitors safe,” said Murphy. “I’m proud to have successfully fought alongside Congresswoman Demings and Congressman Soto to bring this anti-terrorism funding back to central Florida so local law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations have the resources they need to prevent tragedies.”
“These federal funds are critical to strengthen public safety in central Florida” said Soto. “Not too long ago, our community endured a tragic act of terrorism at the Pulse nightclub shooting, becoming one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in our nation since September 11th. UASI funds will enhance preparedness and prevention against terrorist threats and other disasters. We will continue the push for federal funds to better equip our local law enforcement and ensure safety for our residents and the millions of visitors to central Florida each year.”
In total, law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations in 32 cities around the nation—including Orlando, Tampa and Miami—will receive UASI funding this year. They can use this funding to buy homeland security equipment, conduct training exercises, train and pay first responders, and enhance security in order to protect high-profile locations like stadiums, public transit, theme parks, and Jewish Community Centers.
In addition, because Orlando will receive UASI funding, non-profit organizations in the city will automatically become eligible to apply for Nonprofit Security Grants through DHS. In addition, LYNX and SunRail can now apply for Transit Security Grants from the agency, while owners and operators of private bus companies that serve Orlando can apply for DHS Intercity Bus Security Grants.