Orlando will not receive anti-terror funds, again

Federal counter-terrorism funds used for training, equipment

Once again, Orlando will not receive money in 2017 from a Homeland Security grant program designed to help cities defend against terrorism.

Last year, the city was also not awarded Urban Area Security Initiative, or USAI, anti-terror funding.

Orlando’s threat level did increase for 2017, but was not high enough to be included in the program, Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) said Friday. Almost a year after the deadliest shooting in recent U.S. history Orlando actually dropped further down on the list to 38th.

"We are baffled to learn that once again, the Orlando area has been left out of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI),” Demings said.

Orlando Chief John Mina and Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings went to Washington, D.C. a few weeks after the June 12, 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub to ask that Congress release the factors behind the decision of which communities will receive funding.

Mina said Friday after learning of the result that he was “extremely disappointed.”

“I said then, and continue to believe, that our region, which draws more than 68 million visitors a year, remains a target for such attacks,” Mina said.

Even before the terrorist attack at Pulse Orlando law enforcement had asked to receive funding for counter-terrorism efforts because of the city’s tourist attractions, Rep. Val Demings said.

“Fortunately, the Orlando Police Department has the support of Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioners, who are relentlessly committed to public safety and ensure that we have the equipment and training to protect our residents and visitors,” Mina said.

Orlando has not received federal funding from the UASI since 2014.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) echoed Mina and Demings' disappointment.

"As expected, Orlando was again left off the list of metropolitan areas that will receive anti-terrorism funding from FEMA," Murphy said in a statement. 

Both Demings and Murphy said they will work with Congress to increase funding for the program in 2018 and change the allocation formula to include cities like Orlando.

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