Mayor Richard M. Daley today conducted a tour of the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications Center for U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and thanked her for the federal government’s support of the City’s preparedness efforts.
“One of our fundamental responsibilities is to keep Chicago secure and we do this by working constantly and closely with the federal government and state and regional agencies,” Daley said at a news conference held at the OEMC Center, 1411 W. Madison St.
“One reason why Secretary Napolitano is such an effective leader is that she understands that we can’t improve preparedness across our nation unless there is close collaboration among all levels of government,” he said.
Daley praised Napolitano for being especially proactive in recruiting ideas from local and state partners through the formation of her Homeland Security Task Force, an elite group of first responders who have been charged with evaluating the National Strategy on Preparedness. Daley’s Chief of Staff Ray Orozco, a former OEMC executive director, is a member of the task force.
He also announced that the Department of Homeland Security has decided to assign a full-time liaison in Chicago.
The Mayor said that when it comes to emergency preparedness, Chicago has a history of strong leaders and innovation, but that many of the City’s most important initiatives couldn’t have gone forward as quickly as they have without the support of the federal government.
He said, for example, federal support has:
- Helped Chicago become a world leader in installing security and safety cameras -- both as a deterrent to terrorism and to address the challenge of gangs, guns and drugs.
- Helped the City invest in the newest airport security and safety enhancements, including a fingerprint identification system for airport access, license plate recognition cameras and a state-of-the-art video management system.
- Helped Chicago become the first big city in the nation to have integrated its camera network into 911 operations, which greatly enhances the City’s Homeland Security strategy and its ability to fight crime.
Daley said that federal support has played a huge role in allowing the City to build the OEMC Center and carry out its preparedness programs.
This year, Chicago received a grant of $1 million from the federal Emergency Operations Center Program that will help pay for important improvements to the OEMC Center.
“In addition, Federal Emergency Management Agency preparedness grant funds can now be used for maintaining and sustaining important homeland security initiatives that we have invested in over the previous years,” the Mayor said.
“This is a huge benefit for the City and I want to thank DHS for listening to the concerns of all of the urban areas about this issue and making the change,” he said.
Daley said that since September 11, 2001, Chicago’s broad strategy has been to bring all city resources together to keep the people of the city and region safe.
“Through a combination of technology and the hard work and dedication of police officers, firefighters and paramedics and the workers at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, our city will remain as safe and prepared as any big city can be,” he said.
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