From her perch on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is bringing $1.5 million to help Orlando defend against terrorist attacks.
Demings announced this week that Orlando will be getting the funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) which sends money to cities to support anti-terrorism efforts, training, planning and organization. UASI has not sent Orlando funds since 2014, something which Demings, who served as chief of police of that Central Florida city, has been critical of.
“I am gratified that Orlando is back on the list to get the vital anti-terror funding we need and deserve. Our community thrives on tourism and travel. Enormous recreational hubs are magnets for economic activity and make us a world destination, but they also make us a potential target,” Demings said on Monday.
“Our community has personal experience with tragedy,” Demings added. “Every one of us, and every visitor to Central Florida, should feel safe while enjoying a day of fun, a night of entertainment, a morning of worship, or in the workplace. We must be ever-vigilant as we work to stay safe. I am working hard on the House Homeland Security Committee to make sure that Orlando has every tool it needs to prevent future attacks.
“I have argued that because of our large targets and high visitor counts, Orlando should be placed higher on the list when distributing anti-terror funding,” Demings concluded. “I am glad that the Department of Homeland Security put my requested changes into practice, using more accurate data sources, and placing Orlando back in contention for funds to ensure that all of us can stay safe.”
Two other Democrats representing Central Florida in Congress–U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto–also helped obtain the funds.
“Protecting our families and communities must always be a top priority,” Murphy said.
“As one of the nation’s most popular destinations, Orlando needs and deserves federal support to keep residents and visitors safe. 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,” Soto said. “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.”