On Thursday, September 29th, officials from the State of Illinois, Cook County and the City of Chicago announced the award of $54.6 million in federal grant funds from the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) to enhance the safety and security of residents in Chicago and Cook County.
The grant, intended to increase preparedness efforts, will be used to undertake essential planning, enhance training, conduct exercises and provide equipment so that first responders across the urban area will have the skills and resources necessary to prepare for, prevent, and respond to incidents across Cook County and Chicago.
The funds will be shared among three key agencies: The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).
“We are pleased to work collectively with our County and State public safety partners in this initiative,” said Gary Schenkel, OEMC Executive Director. “These funds will increase our ability to use cutting-edge technology, especially in the crucial areas of interoperability and video surveillance; to train, equip and prepare our first responders for disaster response; and to conduct a detailed public awareness campaign to inform the community.
“The willingness by each agency to collaborate on these critical public safety initiatives will strengthen our overall ability to prevent and deter catastrophic incidents throughout the area,” Schenkel added.
Michael Masters, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, called the collaboration another example of agencies working together to meet President Preckwinkle and Mayor Emanuel’s administrative mandate of sharing resources across levels of government.
“There is no area more critical for cooperation than in the realm of public safety,” said Masters. “Working together, we can increase efficiencies and streamline costs. More importantly, with respect to first responders, strengthening our partnerships enhances our ability to serve and protect the residents of the 128 municipalities that make up Cook County.”
“The collaboration between agencies will ensure a seamless integration and coordination of preparedness activities with public safety officials throughout the State of Illinois,” added IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “I want to thank senior leadership in both the City and the County for their tireless efforts to craft a Homeland Security strategy that will benefit the entire region.