Orlando, Fla. - A trio of local lawmakers successfully worked to double the amount of money the City of Orlando will receive in anti-terrorism funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Central Florida Representative Stephanie Murphy, Val Demmings, and Darren Soto secured $3.25 million after they convinced DHS to revise its allocation formula to consider factors like daily visitors, high-profile events and so called ‘soft targets’ like theme parks.
“Orlando is one of our nation’s most popular destinations and home to a vibrant community that has endured tragedy and loss. Residents and visitors alike should know the federal government is providing the support needed to protect them from terrorist threats,” Rep. Murphy said in a press release.
The money will be allocated by by the Urban Area Work Group, which is headed by Orange County Sheriff's Office.
It’s part of $590 million in funding granted to 31 cities across the nation, including Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
The money can be used to purchase 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.
The city received $1.5 million last year but received zero dollars from fiscal years 2015 through 2017.
.@RepStephMurphy, @RepValDemings, @DarrenSoto announce round of federal grants for anti-terrorism efforts. Money going to Orlando, Miami, Tampa. https://t.co/mTF2bQq0bM via @ScottFist #FlaPol pic.twitter.com/qTiIDsfoSr— Florida Politics (@Fla_Pol) August 16, 2019
“Our ongoing advocacy efforts to increase federal resources have paid off as we continue improving security against terrorism in our Central Florida region,” said Soto. “Orlando metro has faced multiple threats in the past years, adding alarming risks to the safety and well-being of our community.
More than 75 million people visited Orlando in 2018 and recently the Orlando International Airport was named the busiest in the state.
The city has also been the target of an attack at the Pulse Nightclub in 2016, where 49 people were killed.
“I am grateful that Central Florida is receiving the funding we need to ensure that our communities remain safe places to live, work, worship, and visit,” said Demings. “Security is our top priority, and with these grants, the federal government is doing its part to help ensure we remain ahead of those seeking to do harm.”
In addition, because Orlando is receiving Urban Area Security Initiative funding, non-profit organizations in the city are eligible for Nonprofit Security Grants from DHS. Three non-profit organizations that predominantly serve the Jewish community in Orlando applied for, and received, a total of $270,000.