(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) announced that the federal government will provide more than $7.2 million to improve security throughout the Washington State Ferries system.

The federal funding comes in the latest round of Port Security Grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Bush Administration has repeatedly tried to cut this program, but Murray has led the effort in the Senate to maintain and increase port security grant funding.

"These investments will help keep our ferries safe and secure for everyone who rides them. Ferries are a critical part of our state's transportation system, and I'm pleased that we're taking steps to keep them safe," Murray said.

Washington State Ferries will receive $6.4 million to improve access control and monitoring. The Washington State Patrol will receive $64,340 to upgrade training facilities for the explosive canine unit. The state ferry system will receive an additional $63,800 to improve the Washington State Patrol's Video Monitoring Stations. In addition, the Bainbridge Island Police Department will receive $637,646 for video surveillance and fencing.

"This is going to help tremendously," said Mike Anderson, Executive Director of Washington State Ferries. "Our security needs have increased dramatically, and this funding addresses security needs on our vessel and at our terminals. The safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority."

Senator Murray has been a long-time advocate of both port security funding and Washington State Ferries. Murray believes that the federal government must be a full partner in ferry security and that the federal government cannot pass the costs onto the state ferry system, the Washington State Patrol, and Coast Guard.

This is the fifth round of Port Security Grants. Since the program was created, Washington State has received 71 awards for a total of $40,113,550 (including today's announcement). The Bush Administration has worked to cut funding for Port Security Grants. Murray has worked to prevent those cuts. Most recently, in September 2004, Senator Murray offered an amendment to provide more port security grants to meet the high demand, but her amendment was defeated on a procedural, mostly party-line vote.

On August 1st, Senator Murray announced that she increased the federal investment in ferries nationwide from $38 million this year to $67 million in five years. Murray made the announcement with local and state officials at the Colman Dock and at the Bremerton Ferry Terminal.

Murray also succeeded in stationing marine "Swat Teams" in the Puget Sound. Today, those teams provide security for Washington state ferries and are often seen alongside ferries.

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