Last week, U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., introduced the “Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act” with U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., as the main co-sponsor.

The bill would have the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “review past disbursements under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), then to create a plan to continue federal anti-terrorism support for UASI-funded homeland security capabilities that keep people safe in these communities”

Demings, who served more than 25 years in law enforcement and rose to become Orlando’s police chief, noted that Orlando, Tampa and Miami/Fort Lauderdale are UASI grant recipients.

“The safety and security of every person who lives, works, and travels in Florida is my top priority. Our previous experience in Orlando showed that critical public safety funding can be inconsistent, leaving important programs without necessary support. This new legislation would provide much-needed stability and peace of mind to emergency planners across Florida, who will rest easier knowing that when they begin a new initiative to keep Floridians safe, they will be able to sustain those efforts,” Demings, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said.

“The UASI program has been one of my top priorities since arriving in Congress and I am proud of the work we have done to restore Orlando to the list and ensure that we can prevent violence – or at least be ready to save lives when the worst should happen. As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen firsthand how important these federal dollars are, and I will continue working to ensure that every Florida community has what’s needed to keep every Floridian safe,” she added.

“Keeping Americans safe from all threats, both foreign and domestic, is a top priority of mine. I’m glad to help lead this effort alongside Rep. Demings to direct DHS and FEMA to assess UASI capabilities and ensure federal assistance is made available for these anti-terrorism law enforcement programs, especially in urban areas, which are potential targets for terrorist attacks. In fact, Omaha had not received UASI funds since FY2010, leaving our community more vulnerable and unprotected. As a retired brigadier general and Air Force veteran, I believe that if another terrorist attack like 9/11, a natural disaster, or worldwide pandemic occurs, our first responders, non-profits, and other public safety personnel must be equipped to protect our citizens and preserve our communities,” Bacon said.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors and the National Fusion Center Association are all backing the proposal.

Demings chairs the U.S. Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery which oversees UASI.

Demings’ bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week. So far, there is no companion measure over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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