Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) cautioned Friday against additional cuts to federal funds for homeland security as he recounted numerous steps Maryland has taken to make the state safer in the 10 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“With the economic downturn, it becomes easier for some in Congress to justify cutting back on investments in homeland security, investments in policing, investments in firefighting,” O’Malley told reporters following a speech on homeland security in Baltimore. “But you cannot secure a nation like ours on the backs of bake-sale proceeds. You need to make these investments, and they’re investments we can only make together.”
As part of a continuing series of events focused on homeland security, O’Malley addressed a conference jointly sponsored by the University of Maryland and his office.
His remarks included a long list of steps the state has taken in recent years. Among them: improving communications among law-enforcement officers and other first-responders; installing thousands of closed-circuit cameras; adopting license-plate reading technology; taking port security more seriously; requiring hospitals and nursing homes to have back-up power; and conducting regular drills to practice for disasters.
The subject area is one O’Malley has carved out as a niche since his days as mayor of Baltimore, when he led a task force on homeland security for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. O’Malley currently serves as co-chairman of a committee on homeland security for the National Governors Association.
In his remarks, O’Malley called for “a more resilient Maryland” in the aftermath of future terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
“An immune system is strong not because it outnumbers the bad bugs but because it is better connected, it is better coordinated, it is more resilient than the bad bugs,” O’Malley said. “The human body is capable of absorbing many blows in many ways. The human heart, even when damaged, can continue to pump and function up to a point. In the same way, we need to think about our state and our country, as a body that has to develop a better capacity of taking a hit, whether from terror or a natural disaster, and being able to continue to move forward and recover.”
O’Malley’s speech Friday followed his remarks given late Thursday night at a 9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit in Washington where speakers included Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Dan Chung, chief executive officer of Alger, a financial advisory firm that was located in the World Trade Center and lost 35 of its 39 workers to the terrorist attack.