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More anti-terrorism money coming to Orlando

The city went years without any anti-terrorism money.

Orlando can expect another $3 million or so in anti-terrorism urban security money this year, its Congressional members announced Friday.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative approved a new major terror-prevention and preparedness grant, U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy, and Darren Soto jointly announced.

This year’s award follows new methodology and will total between $2.8 and $3.5 million. Last year, Orlando and Tampa Bay each received $3.25 million. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area received $7 million to help local law enforcement develop anti-terrorism programs for the cities.

Orlando’s inclusion in the program was restored in 2018 after a multi-year drought, following strong advocacy by Central Florida’s congressional delegation — Democratic Reps. Demings, Murphy, and Soto, and by Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Rep. John Mica. In 2018, Orlando received $1.5 million, in its first year of renewed eligibility.

“After seeing every level of community safety in Orlando, from midnight patrols to Chief of police, I know how important this federal support is to our law enforcement’s ability to be proactive against possible threats,” Demings said in a news release. “As a member of the Homeland Security Committee, Orlando’s re-inclusion in the UASI program has been a highlight of our work in Congress and we will continue to advocate for this critical funding.”

Offered Murphy: “As a top tourist destination, the Orlando area is vulnerable to acts of terrorism that endanger the lives of residents and visitors alike. That’s why our congressional delegation fought so hard to ensure Orlando received this critical funding. I will keep working to bring home federal dollars that increase public safety and give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our community safe.”

Added Soto: “Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of Central Floridians. We are extremely grateful to be approved for funding this year under Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, which will aid us in funding programs focused on terror-prevention and preparedness. The people of Orlando have felt firsthand the impact of extreme tragedies perpetrated by those seeking to create panic and fear, and we are determined to use this funding to eliminate such instances wherever possible.”

The program provides cities with money to help with terror-prevention planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises in urban areas that could be potential targets.

The final funding figure for this grant year will be based on the alignment of local programs to the four national priority areas: cybersecurity, soft targets/crowded places, intelligence and information sharing and emerging threats.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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