WASHINGTON, DC –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to support a program that strengthens security in Philadelphia and other urban areas potentially vulnerable to terrorist attack.
“The Urban Area Security Initiative has made a substantial impact in improving the safety and security of Pennsylvanians,” Senator Casey wrote in a letter to the committee. “If the program is cut further in 2012, I am concerned that the city of Philadelphia will be negatively impacted.”
The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) began in 2003 and provides funding to address unique planning, organization, equipment, training and exercise needs of certain high risk urban areas. Projects funded through the UASI in recent years include:
- Acquisition of technology, tools, training and equipment to support the Philadelphia Bomb Squad and SWAT team
- Equipment and training for the Philadelphia Police Department’s Major Incident Response Team
- Equipment enhancements to the city’s public safety wireless network
- A mobile hospital to support a mass casualty incident or hospital evacuation
The full text of the Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Dear Chairman Inouye:
As the Committee moves forward with consideration of the fiscal year 2012 homeland security appropriations bill, I strongly urge that robust resources be made available for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). This important program has strengthened the security environment in the city of Philadelphia, and remains vital to ensuring the continued safety for our citizens in this vulnerable area.
UASI began in 2003 and provides funding to address the unique planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas. Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, UASI provides grants only to certain high risk urban areas, broken down into two tiers. In 2011, UASI experienced substantial cuts which led to a decrease in the overall number of urban areas receiving funding -- 64 urban areas were eligible to apply for funding in 2010, while only 31 were eligible in 2011.
If the program is cut further in 2012, I am concerned that the city of Philadelphia, currently a Tier One urban area, will be negatively impacted. As home to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and several renowned historical sites, the city is potentially vulnerable to terrorist attack. In recent years, Philadelphia has used UASI funding to bolster capabilities to respond to prevent and respond to an attack. Examples of projects funded this initiative include:
- Development of the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center (DVIC), an all hazards regional intelligence fusion center in Philadelphia;
- Equipment and training for the Philadelphia Police Department’s Major Incident Response Team, a unit of highly trained officers equipped to manage the response to a terrorist attack and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive hazards;
- Acquisition of technology, tools, training and equipment to support the Philadelphia Bomb Squad as well as the Philadelphia SWAT team;
- Staffing of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management;
- Equipment and training for the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Response Team, Technical Rescue Squad and Special Operations;
- Acquisition of Philadelphia’s mobile command post;
- An interoperable radio capability that enables first responders and 911 centers to communicate;
- A mobile hospital to support a mass casualty incident or hospital evacuation and associated training of the city’s medical response team; and
- Enhancement of the city’s public safety wireless network to enable first responders to access the city’s public safety network and share information in the field.
The Urban Area Security Initiative has made a substantial impact in improving the safety and security of Pennsylvanians. I urge the committee to provide robust funding for this critical homeland security need.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator