(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $5 million for 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics-related projects in two Senate spending bills. A taskforce of federal, state, and local officials have been working for over three years to address the security needs of the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. This funding supports critical projects that these officials and the Department of Homeland Security have identified as top priorities.
“While the Olympics and Paralympics take place in Canada, they will have a significant impact on border security in the United States,” said Senator Murray. “This funding supports the projects that homeland security officials at the federal, state and local levels have identified as being their top priorities. The Olympic Games are right around the corner and we must be prepared.”
“The 2010 Olympics Coordination Center will synchronize the operations of more than 40 U.S. federal, state, local and international agencies in support of British Columbia's 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics," said Major General Timothy J. Lowenberg, Adjutant General (TAG) of the State of Washington. "The Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC) will insure safe travel and border transit for international visitors and residents of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region alike. We are thankful for the leadership of Senator Patty Murray and the support of our Washington Congressional delegation in securing funding for this critical border security facility.”
The projects included for the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics follow:
2010 Olympics Coordination Center - $4 million
This funding would support the operations of a 2010 Olympics Coordination Center at the Customs and Border Protection Air Wing in Bellingham, Washington. This Center would allow federal, state, and local officials to meet, prepare and coordinate a response to any incident from one location. Importantly, the Center would only be twenty-three miles away from the Canadian border, as opposed to 110 miles to Seattle or 155 miles to the Washington State Military Department.
2010 Olympics Training and Exercises - $500,000
It is important that emergency officials and first responders know what to do before an emergency occurs. The funding provided by Senator Murray will assist conduct training and exercises and develop the protocols that will be followed in the event of any incident at the Olympic games or at the border.
Mt. Sumas Integrated Wireless Network - $500,000
This funding helps expand the Integrated Wireless Network (IWN) in Northwest Washington by improving a communications tower at Mt. Sumas. IWN helps improve communications between federal first responders and the Washington State Patrol.
In addition, Senator Murray secured funding for a national program she created to address the high cost of law enforcement for northern border communities.
Northern Border Prosecution Initiative - $10 million (nationally)
The Northern Border Prosecution Initiative (NBPI) will help pay for jail costs, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges to support law enforcement across the northern border. The funding in the NBPI is distributed by a formula payment to local governments for federal crimes that the local U.S. Attorneys Office declines to prosecute. Instead of letting these potential criminals go free, county and local governments bear the burden of prosecuting and holding them. The Department of Justice already supports a similar program for the Southwest Border. Senator Murray created the program for the northern border in last year’s Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations legislation.
“I am very excited for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, but we need to be prepared," said Senator Murray. "We want as many people from around the country and around the world to take the opportunity to visit Washington state, eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, shop in our stores and visit our world-class attractions. But most importantly we want them to be safe as they travel through our border communities and this funding will help ensure that we have the facilities and trained personnel we need."
The funding for 2010 Olympics was announced today after the Senate Appropriations Committee met to consider both the Fiscal Year 2009 Homeland Security Appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. The bill will now move to the Senate floor.
The 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics will occur February 12-28, 2010 and March 12-21, 2010 in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.