Orlando Sentinel: Soto, Murphy, Demings Announce Orlando to receive $2.8M to $3.5M in anti-terror funding in 2020
Orlando will receive between $2.8 million and $3.5 million in federal anti-terrorism funding this year, the city’s third straight year of funding after years of not receiving any money.
The 2020 Urban Area Security Initiative award for help with cybersecurity, “soft targets/crowded places,” intelligence and information sharing and “emerging threats,” follows a new methodology, according to a joint statement by U.S. Reps. Val Demings, D-Orlando; Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park; and Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and the final number will be either slightly less or slightly more than 2019’s $3.25 million grant.
The region received $1.5 million in 2018 after widespread outrage from local lawmakers and law enforcement when Orlando received no money in 2017 despite the shooting at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people the year before. The 2018 funding was also the region’s first since 2014.
There weren’t details on how the 2020 funding would be divvied up, but previous grants went to surrounding counties including Orange, Seminole, Lake, Osceola and Volusia. Public safety organizations will put together a wish list of equipment for 2020 including firearms, bomb-squad materials and active-shooter kits, but the money can’t be used to hire people or pay salaries.
“This Valentine’s Day announcement is great news as we work to keep Central Florida safe,” Demings said in a statement. “Having the safety and shield of well-trained, well-prepared first responders is what has allowed Orlando to become a haven for business, art, culture, tourism, and innovation.”
Murphy said the delegation “fought so hard to ensure Orlando received this critical funding,” while Soto said, “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 three Democrats also criticized the Trump administration for its announced budget proposal for 2021 that cuts Urban Area Security Initiative money "and other law enforcement preparedness grants significantly, which would leave our communities less safe.”