October 25, 2001

U.S. Mayors Issue National Action Plan to Improve Homeland Security, Stimulate Economy
Plan Calls for Greater Assistance and Cooperation from the Federal Government and Strategic Investment in Infrastructure

Washington, DC -- The nation's mayors, meeting in an unprecedented Emergency Safety and Security Summit, today presented Tom Ridge, Director of the Office of Homeland Security, with a sweeping set of recommendations for improving the nation's ability to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, while stimulating the economy through strategic investments in the nation's infrastructure.

More from Day 2
Day 1

Download "A National Action Plan for Safety and Security in America's Cities."

Download the closing statement by Mayor Morial.

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge: State and local governments key to emergency response. (view the video clip | download the transcript)

Attorney General Ashcroft: Let the terrorists among us be warned. (view the video clip)

The U.S. Conference of Mayor's report, "A National Action Plan for Safety and Security in America's Cities," was the result of several weeks of work by mayors that culminated in a historic, two-day summit attended by nearly 100 mayors and scores of police and fire chiefs from across the country.

New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, President of the Conference, said the safety and security report is intended to dramatically improve security systems across the country, make long overdue investments in the nation's infrastructure, enhance coordination between local and federal law enforcement authorities, strengthen public health systems and give an immediate boost to the U.S. economy.

"Our plan recognizes that we are fighting two wars on the home front - one is against terrorists and the physical and psychological threats they pose to our citizens, and the other is for our economic survival," Morial said. "We have identified numerous recommendations for improving our security and response systems. These action steps are necessary to successfully deal with the threats and actions of terrorists and restore a sense of security to our citizens."

The Conference's plan calls for Cabinet status and budget authority for the Office of Homeland Security and an advisory role for mayors to ensure adequate federal-local coordination.

"The Homeland Security Office needs the teeth that comes with budget authority and mayors need a seat at the table because we are at the front lines of our defense and response networks," Morial said. "At a time when more and more Americans are looking to government for solutions and security, mayors are being counted on to promote economic development, manage our front line of defense against terrorists and coordinate the first responder network to help victims. This is a responsibility we welcome, but we need the tools to help us meet the challenge. This report is a blueprint for designing a system that ensures local and federal authorities are working together as effectively as possible to ensure a safer and more secure society."

The Conference's safety and security report includes the following recommendations:

Cabinet Status and Budget Authority for Office of Homeland Security, Flex Security Grants for Cities

  • The Office of Homeland Security should have Cabinet rank and the director should be provided with budget authority over all federal personnel and programs related to the domestic protection of the nation. A commission of mayors and local law enforcement authorities would advise on the restructuring of the federal-local partnership to strengthen domestic safety and security.

  • A new flexible, local security block grant should be established under the Office of Homeland Security and provided directly to cities. The grants could be used for full-time disaster coordination, construction and retrofitting of local command and control centers, training of first responders, the purchase of communications and rescue equipment, and additional security measures to protect airports, waterways, utilities, public transit and other public infrastructure.

Strategic Infrastructure Investments to Strengthen Security Systems, Improve Transportation Network, Create Jobs

  • A federal economic stimulus package should include funding for securing and strengthening the nation's water security system and surface transportation networks. The funding would allow for new construction and improvements to existing infrastructure as well as for increasing security personnel and improving communications systems. The strategic infrastructure investment would improve defense and response against terrorists and provide job-creating stimulus to the economy.

Federalizing Airport Security

  • Airport security legislation should be enacted to federalize airport security screening, provide additional support and flexibility to airports to help stabilize airport finances, assist dislocated workers and businesses, and reimburse airports for increased security costs.

Public Health Investments

  • Resources should be provided to strengthen the local public health infrastructure, coordinate training efforts for public and private sector health care personnel, and develop adequate and secure communication and data analysis systems to ensure coordinated implementation of public health disaster preparedness plans.

  • Adequate national and regional stockpiles of vaccines and therapeutics must be developed and made readily available to metropolitan centers to permit a quick response to a weapons of mass destruction attack and to protect first response personnel.

  • A rapid response testing network that provides highly accurate on-the-scene determinations for biological and chemical agents is critically important.

New Communication Protocol for Federal-Local Law Enforcement, Enhanced Border Defense

  • A new protocol should be established governing the coordination of federal and local law enforcement to ensure immediate and constant communication and the sharing of much more detailed intelligence information to local law enforcement.

  • The federal government should at least triple the number of U.S. Customs, INS and Border Patrol officers. The government should also implement the practice of "reverse customs inspections" to increase security in tunnels and on bridges across borders, ensuring vehicle inspections are conducted prior to using a tunnel or bridge to cross a border.

Economic Security Measures

  • To provide economic security for those who have been hurt by the economic fallout of the terrorist attack, the federal government should extend and expand unemployment insurance benefits, and increase funding for job training programs. The government should provide free or low-cost health insurance for low-income families and health insurance subsidies for unemployed workers.

  • Any provisions to cut taxes should be short term - 12 to 18 months - and targeted to stimulating the economy. Examples would include lifting the cap on state and local tax exempt bonds to spur stalled development, doubling the allocation of low-income housing tax credits to advance housing construction, and providing a tax credit for low and moderate income families to purchase computers to boost technology literacy.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,200 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766
Lina Garcia (202) 861-6719
Chris Hayes (202) 326-1768


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