IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2002

One Year Later, Cities Are Safer But Still Await Financial Assistance From Washington

Washington, DC -- The nation's cities are significantly safer than they were one year ago, but mayors are still waiting for financial assistance from Washington to help cover the massive costs they have incurred, according to five mayors from across the country who released a progress report on homeland security in America's cities at a U.S. Conference of Mayors forum today (Download Status Report on Federal-Local Homeland Security Partnership here).


(From left) Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin, Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, USCM Executive Director Thomas J. Cochran, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Laredo Mayor Betty Flores and Gary (Ind.) Mayor Scott King speak during a forum at the press club where they released a progress report on homeland security in America's cities.
  • Please contact Andy Solomon for a copy of the video.
  • "Mayors have made tremendous progress ensuring the preparedness and safety of America's cities, which are at the frontlines of our national homeland security effort," said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, Chairman of the Conference's Advisory Board. "However, one year after 9/11, we are still waiting for desperately needed financial assistance from Washington to help fund further security improvements and support first responders."

    Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin, Laredo Mayor Betty Flores, and Gary (Ind.) Mayor Scott King joined Mayor Plusquellic at the forum. Mayors O'Malley, Griffin, and King co-chair the Conference's Task Force on Federal-Local Law Enforcement issues. As co-chair of the Conference's Task Force on Cities and Borders, Mayor Flores has led mayors' efforts to enhance border security.

    To secure our cities, mayors said they have:

    • Significantly tightened security and access to public buildings and utilities;
    • Conducted vulnerability assessments of potential key targets;
    • Expanded bio- and chemical surveillance efforts;
    • Conducted numerous readiness exercises to help prepare for possible emergencies and improve response capabilities;
    • Acquired more and better equipment for first responders (police, fire, EMS, and public health workers);
    • Improved emergency communications systems;
    • Helped improve security at airports;
    • Worked closely with the private sector to make cities more secure; and
    • Vastly expanded anti-terrorism public information and education efforts.

    Mayors said they are still waiting for financial assistance from Washington one year after September 11. After two surveys by the U.S. Conference of Mayors indicated cities were confronting huge, unexpected security costs, President Bush proposed $3.5 billion in new homeland security funding for first responders. Mayors strongly support this funding, though they believe it should be distributed directly to cities, where it can be most quickly and efficiently invested in local security efforts. Mayors also urged immediate funding to pay for airport infrastructure security improvements.

    While progress has been made in improving federal-local information sharing, mayors still seek a further streamlining of intelligence sharing, new protocols regarding law enforcement cooperation, and a system for direct communication between federal and local law enforcement.

    There was also some praise for Congress and the Administration from mayors citing:

    • Federalization of airport security screening, a step recommended by the nation's mayors immediately following the September 11 attack;
    • Efforts to create a new Department of Homeland Security, endorsed by mayors last year, even before it was proposed by the President; and
    • Improved communications and coordination between federal and local law enforcement, including more detailed information in conjunction with security alerts.

    In October, 2001, the U.S. Conference of Mayors held a security summit for the nation's mayors, at which they endorsed a detailed "National Action Plan for Safety and Security in America's Cities." The Conference subsequently conducted surveys on cities' security costs and mayors' security concerns. All these homeland security materials are available online at usmayors.org.

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    The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.

    Contact:
    Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766

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