Two Homeland Security Bills Sponsored by Rep. Demings Pass House

This week, Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills introduced by Orlando Representative Val Demings. The bills are the Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act, which passed unanimously, and the DHS Basic Training Accreditation Improvement Act, which also passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority.

“The safety and security of every American is my top priority,” Rep. Demings said. “After the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the Urban Area Security Initiative was created to ensure that first responders in every city can prevent, disrupt, and respond to terror attacks and other catastrophic events. However, fluctuations in funding levels have left major cities like Orlando uncertain if they will receive funding from year to year. When funding disappears, cities are forced to choose between maintaining core capabilities and other essential community programs. My legislation will stabilize this critical anti-terror funding so that communities can maintain vital public safety programs.”

The Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act legislation would 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. The DHS Basic Training Accreditation Improvement Act of 2021 would require that all officer training programs for the Department of Homeland Security receive accreditation to ensure a high standard of excellence for officers tasked to protect America.

“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,” Rep. Demings added. “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 community has what’s needed to keep every American safe.”

The Urban Area Security Initiative provides funding to help with terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas which could be targeted. Orlando received $3.8 million in 2021, $3.5 million in 2020, $3.25 million in 2019, and $1.5 million in 2018. Prior to this, Orlando was excluded from the program starting in 2014. Other UASI allocations in Florida this year included $14.75 million for Miami/Fort Lauderdale and $3.8 million for Tampa. Rep. Demings is the Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, which oversees the UASI program. She previously fought to have Orlando restored to the program. As Orlando’s former Chief of Police, Rep. Demings oversaw the use of UASI funding by the Orlando Police Department.

Law enforcement agencies in 31 cities around the nation—including Orlando, Tampa and Miami—received 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. Florida also received $9,701,894 through the State Homeland Security Program.

The Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act is bipartisan legislation introduced with Rep. Don Bacon. The legislation is endorsed by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, The United States Conference of Mayors, The National Fusion Center Association, Major County Sheriffs Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The DHS Basic Training Accreditation Improvement Act of 2021 would require regular reporting by the Secretary of Homeland Security to Congress on the accreditation status of each of the Department’s basic training programs. For those programs that are not accredited, the Secretary must provide the reasons for not obtaining or maintaining accreditation, the activities, if any, taken to achieve accreditation, and the anticipated timeline for accreditation of the program.  In addition to improving the quality of basic training programs in the Department, the bill directs DHS to engage in research to help State, local, Tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers better access FLETC training opportunities.


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