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. This year’s award follows a new methodology and will total $3.5 million. The predicted grant range for Orlando was $2.8-$3.5 million.
Law enforcement agencies in 32 cities around the nation – including Orlando, Tampa and Miami – will receive a total of $615 million in 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, and theme parks. Orlando’s inclusion in the program was restored in 2018 after a multi-year drought, following strong advocacy by Central Florida’s congressional delegation of Representatives Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto.
“The safety and security of our community is my top responsibility in Congress, and I am excited to announce that Orlando will be receiving the maximum possible security grant available to us,” said Rep. Demings. “As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Orlando’s re-inclusion in the UASI program has been a highlight of my work in Congress and we will continue to advocate for this critical funding.”
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. As Orlando’s former Chief of Police, Rep. Demings previously oversaw the use of UASI funding by OPD, and she had criticized the decision to leave Orlando off the list previously.
“The Orlando-area is a growing region and a popular tourist destination, making it a potential target for terrorist activity,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy. “That’s why for years I’ve fought alongside my colleagues to ensure the federal government provided additional resources to help keep our community safe. I’m proud that this year we’ve once again increased this funding and we will keep working to ensure Central Florida law enforcement agencies and nonprofits have the support they need to fight terrorism.”
Rep. Darren Soto said safety is the top priority. “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of Central Floridians,” he said. “As our community continues to grow, we are extremely grateful to receive this increased funding that will aid us in enhancing our law enforcement’s preparedness and prevention methods. The people of Orlando have felt firsthand the impact of extreme tragedies perpetrated by those seeking to create panic and fear, and we are certain this funding will help eliminate such instances wherever possible. This will also help protect the many families who are just beginning to visit Orlando again as a result of the pandemic.”
In addition, because Orlando is receiving UASI funding, non-profit organizations in the city are eligible for Nonprofit Security Grants from DHS. Five faith-based non-profit organizations in Orlando applied for, and received, a total of $480,000.
“After being a part of every level of community safety in Orlando, from midnight patrols to Chief of Police, I have seen how important this federal support is as we work to stay proactive against possible threats,” Rep. Demings added. “COVID-19 may be the health and safety priority of today, but this grant will help protect us against the threats of tomorrow. We should all be glad that Orlando will have the best possible community safety measures in place.”