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Mayor de Blasio and Bipartisan Members of the United States Congress Stand Together to Urge Congress to Preserve Urban Area Security Initiative Funding

August 17, 2016

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Congressman Israel, Congressman Donovan and Congresswoman Rice visit NYC’s DOHMH, NYPD, FDNY and NYCEM to tour sites that receive UASI funding

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton today joined Congressman Steve Israel and key Homeland Security congressional allies to reiterate the necessity of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding – New York City’s main source of federal homeland security funds. New York City faces the highest risk from terror attacks of any city in the nation, and UASI funds – which are distributed based on risk – go toward emergency preparedness and response. They were joined by Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito and Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

“New York City depends on funding provided by the Urban Area Security Initiative to help keep our streets safe. Any change in this funding disrupts the system. Continuity over time is vital, as preparations require planning,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City remains the most targeted city in the United States and one of the most targeted cities in the world. Thanks to continued resources and our fearless leaders, since 2001, we have thwarted 20 terrorist plots against New York City – four of which were in the past two years alone. As a city that 8.5 million Americans call home, and one that annually hosts almost 60 million people from all corners of the globe, it is critical that we restore and maintain these necessary funds.” 

The UASI program provides funding to address the unique needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas, and to assist these localities in building sustainable capacity to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism. The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposed a national funding level of only $330 million, an almost 50 percent cut from Fiscal Year 2016. This would result in a $90 million cut for New York City, hindering the City’s ability to expand and improve necessary counterterrorism programs. Mayor de Blasio stands with Congress in their efforts to restore full funding.

Throughout the day, Congressman Israel, Congressman Dan Donovan and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice visited sites across New York City that receive UASI funding and were briefed by top city officials on how New York City employs that funding. The Representatives met with Commissioner Bratton, Commissioner Nigro, Commissioner Esposito and Commissioner Dr. Bassett. The tour, which consisted of four sites – the City’s Public Health Lab, the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Emergency Operations Center – demonstrates how UASI funding is spent and reiterates its necessity.

“After 9/11, New York City remains one of the top terror targets in the world. It is critical that Congress fully funds the Urban Area Security Initiative grant program so we can thwart terrorist attacks and keep New York families safe. I will fight in Congress to make certain New York City has the resources it needs to be a model for the rest of the country when it comes to preventing and combating terrorism,” said Congressman Steve Israel.

“New Yorkers understand the importance of homeland security all too well. It’s disappointing that the President would consider slashing New York City’s security funding in such dangerous times, and I’ve been working with partners on both sides of the aisle to reverse the proposal. Protecting our country is government’s most basic and important responsibility, and it’s one on which I’ll continue to focus,” said Congressman Dan Donovan, Chair of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.”

“New York is one of the top terrorist targets in the world, and the Urban Areas Security Initiative helps make it the most prepared city in the world,” said Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. “Today we’ve learned about some of the ways this program is fueling counterterrorism and emergency preparedness efforts in the city and throughout the region – putting more police on the streets, providing first responders with specialized training and equipment, enhancing law enforcement’s emergency response and communication capabilities. They rely on this funding to protect not only residents of the city, but the millions of people who go to work in the city every day, including many from my district, and the millions more who travel here from around the world. This program is a smart, necessary investment in our regional security, and I’ll keep working in Congress to make sure that New York and other high-threat urban areas get the full funding they need.”

In New York City, UASI funds have allowed the City to improve training for first responders, invest in high-quality equipment to detect potential chemical, biological and radiological weapons, and conduct exercises that prepare law enforcement for potential threats. With UASI funding, the City created a Domain Awareness System, placing approximately 9,000 cameras, thousands of license plate scanners, and thousands of detections devices across the city to keep New Yorkers safe. Reductions in UASI funding would destabilize and undermine these ongoing security and intelligence gathering efforts.

“New York City remains a top target for terrorists. It is unconscionable to short the City of New York nearly $100 million in critical counterterrorism funding,” said NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton. “Terrorist attacks at home and abroad are increasing in frequency and it is harder than ever disrupt those attacks as their planner’s communication is increasingly encrypted, hidden from law enforcement. The funding for personnel, training and equipment is critical to the NYPD and our ability to keep this city safe. I stand with the Mayor and others in calling for the restoration of these funds – immediately.”

“Federal funding has been absolutely critical to rebuilding a devastated Fire Department following September 11th, including construction of a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center, establishing counterterrorism and disaster preparedness training for all FDNY members, forming highly-trained FDNY teams who respond to incidents across the country, and the creation of a revitalized fleet of fireboats which ensures the safety of New York Harbor,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.  “It is imperative that these vital funds continue to support cities like ours which are most at risk, and the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect them.”

“UASI funding is critical to support the preparedness and response capabilities of NYC Emergency Management and our partners,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “From multi-agency exercises to public education campaigns, these funds are essential to our efforts to keep NYC prepared.”

"The Health Department has a unique role in keeping our City safe, and UASI funds help us plan for, detect and respond to public health emergencies and terror threats," said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. "We have made vital investments in the development of scenario specific plans, training, and full scale response exercises. Terror attacks, including bioterrorism, are real risks here in NYC, and we cannot afford to be unprepared or underprepared." 

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