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Chicago Spends Huge Sums to Prevent Terrorism - 2002-08-20

The mayor of the United States' third-largest city says he hopes the federal government moves quickly to help communities across the country pay for anti-terrorism measures. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley made his comments as he outlined what Chicago has done to make itself safer since last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Mayor Daley and his city department heads offered a lengthy and expensive list of security measures the city has undertaken since last September, including more equipment and personnel for police and fire departments, more video cameras at the city's airports and near sensitive buildings like the water filtration plant. Total price tag for all of the city's measures so far is about $76 million. The mayor says Chicago is not alone in its spending for safety. He hopes the federal government will offer help soon.

"You talk to any mayor across this country, the federal government has to supplement them. They can not take [pick up] 90 percent of this cost. It is impossible," said Mayor Daley.

Lawmakers in Washington are working on a homeland security bill, which will include money to help local and state governments pay for their security improvements. Like many cities, Chicago is already facing a budget deficit because of the economic slowdown this year. Mayor Daley stressed the federal money can not come soon enough.

"Terrorists are not waiting for the federal government," he said. "They are plotting every day. I hope the federal government gets its act in order and gets the money out into local, county and state governments."

Mayor Daley says Chicago is as well-prepared for a terrorist attack or other emergency as any big city can be. The city has sent top public safety officials to New York in recent months to learn more about how it responded to the September 11 attacks.

In the past year, Chicago has also demolished more than 300 abandoned buildings that could be used by terrorists or other criminals. It has enacted a law requiring owners of tall buildings to have an evacuation plan, and trained hundreds of emergency workers for responding to chemical, biological and radiological hazards.

Police Chief Terry Hillard also urged Chicago residents to be aware of what is happening in their neighborhoods, and report any suspicious activity to the police. He said, "One year ago, terrorism was a distant threat for all of us. It was someone else's problem. Now it is everyone's responsibility."

Mayor Daley says he would also like the federal government to impose tougher rules on where small planes can fly. He says if planes are barred from flying over the White House, they should also be kept away from water filtration plants, nuclear power stations and large cities. The federal government did ban small planes from flying over downtown Chicago after last September 11, but lifted the ban in April.