IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2001

Mayors Meet Ridge to Discuss Federal-Local Cooperation in Homeland Defense
Partners in Protecting the Nation, Mayors Ask for Better Communication, More Funding

Washington, DC -- In a White House meeting with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, a group of mayors today sought to increase cooperation and coordination between federal and local officials to protect American cities and their residents.

New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Gary (Ind.) Mayor Scott King, and Irvington (NJ) Mayor Sarah Bost told Gov. Ridge that local officials wanted a partnership with the federal government to provide and fund local security, public health, and emergency preparedness and response efforts. The mayors also expressed their strong desire to help Governor Ridge in any way possible.

"Local officials are usually the first to respond in case of an emergency," said Morial, President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "We need to be and we want to be partners with the federal government in ensuring public safety and security. But to be effective partners we need better communication and the resources necessary to adequately protect the public."

Mayors told Gov. Ridge that better communication and additional financial assistance are needed to help cities prepare for and respond to current and future security and health demands. Specifically, the mayors urged Ridge to -

Establish security block grants to provide training, equipment, and funding for local police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. Of the approximately $10 billion federal anti-terrorism budget, only 4.9 percent is allocated to state and local first response activities. Of this limited amount, most is provided to the states, bypassing America's cities and major population centers.

Support recently filed bi-partisan Senate legislation (S. 1615) to remove barriers to the sharing of federal law enforcement information with local officials. With nearly 650,000 police officers, cities play a vital role helping to make the nation safer and more secure.

Direct significant new resources toward strengthening the local public health infrastructure, including training, communication, and disaster preparedness.

Secure and strengthen the nation's transportation systems, including local transit systems, rail, roads, and waterways, as well as air transportation.

Last month, Gov. Ridge addressed the Mayors' Emergency, Safety and Security Summit in Washington. Mayors presented him a four-page set of recommendations, which were also discussed in today's meeting.

A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors estimated the cost to cities of additional security stemming from the September 11 attack at over $1.5 billion during the next year. This estimate is likely low, as it predates anthrax cases and results mostly from data from small and medium-sized cities.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today.

For more information visit our website at usmayors.org.

Contact:
Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719

###

©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors