Officials say millions in grant money could help city prep for NATO and G-8 summit

September 30, 2011

Michell Eloy

The Chicago area is getting millions of dollars that safety officials say could help the city prepare for the upcoming NATO and G-8 summits.

On Thursday, city and state officials announced Cook County and the city of Chicago would be awarded more than $54 million from the federal government. The money is part of the Urban Area Security Initiative grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant is intended to help urban areas prepare for a possible attack or disaster.

“I think we're not looking at this from what individual component, but what holistic strategy can be developed to get the urban area prepared for any event that we might face, whether man made or natural,” said Michael Masters, who heads the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Masters said the $54 million will go primarily toward training programs and new equipment for first responders to potential disasters. Gary Schenkel, director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, suggested the money could go toward security planning for the upcoming summits.

“That is certainly the impetus for our strategic plan to expend the money,” Shenkel said.

The NATO and G8 summits are scheduled for May of next year.