Today Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) and Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) introduced the Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act. This bipartisan legislation would direct the Department of Homeland Security to 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.
Rep. Bacon is a former United States Air Force Brigadier General and Wing Commander. Rep. Demings is a former 27-year law enforcement officer and Orlando, Florida Chief of Police. BILL TEXT // FACT SHEET
“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 said.
“Keeping Americans safe from all threats, both foreign and domestic, is a top priority of mine,” Bacon said. “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.”
The Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act 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.
After 9/11, the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security began to distribute funding to urban areas under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant program with the goal of enhancing “regional preparedness and capabilities in designated high-threat, high-density areas.”
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon explained, in testimony before the Committee, that for local law enforcement who are on the “front lines of responding to any emergency, whether it be a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or global pandemic, FEMA preparedness grants are critical resources that bolster law enforcement’s ability to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks and other associated threats.”
The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) provides funding to help with terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas which could be targeted. Law enforcement agencies in 31 cities around the nation 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.