"I believe that there is no greater obligation of our government than to provide for the safety and security of the American people. Whether the threat is from international terrorists or the thug down the street, public safety and homeland security is essential, and we must invest to protect our borders, neighborhoods, and other vulnerable targets, and as a daily commuter on Amtrak I believe that these efforts must be extended to out transportation systems." - Senator Joe Biden
THE BIDEN PLAN: $10 BILLION TO MAKE AMERICA SAFER
Hometown and Homeland Security: Because he believes our borders must be protected, our streets must be safe, and that we should never feel threatened in our own neighborhoods, Senator Biden has made fighting crime a top priority. He has worked to restore billions of dollars in funding cuts made to local law enforcement officials. And he has his own plan - to invest $10 billion a year for five years - to make America safer: Here's what he wants to do:
* Hire 50,000 Cops and 1,000 FBI Agents: In the 1990s, the Biden Crime Bill has funded over 100,000 cops to America's streets, helping to bring down murder and violent crime rates eight years in a row. But crime is on the rise again, as are threats of terrorism, so the Senator wants to put an additional 50,000 cops on America's streets and add 1,000 FBI agents.
* Reducing the Number of Repeat Offenders: Two-thirds of people released from state prisons are re-arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years of release. These offenders are re-entering our communities with insufficient monitoring, little or no job skills, inadequate drug treatment, insufficient housing, limited health services, and few positive influences. Senator Biden authored the Second Chance Act to provide ex-offenders with housing, drug and alcohol treatment, job training and other life skills they need to rejoin their families and communities.
* Scan 100 Percent of Cargo Containers Entering Our Ports: Today, only 5 percent of cargo entering our seaports is scanned, even though our ports are among America's most vulnerable targets. Should a terrorist attack and we have to suspend operations at every port, as we did after 9/11 at every airport, it would cost this economy $58 billion in 12 days. Senator Biden wants 100 percent of containers to be scanned to prevent radiological and other dangerous materials from being smuggled into America and has offered a plan to do so.
* Implement the 9/11 Commission Recommendations: After the tragedy of 9/11, a bi-partisan Commission looked at where America is most vulnerable and recommend how to make our ports, chemical plants, railways, and other critical infrastructure more secure. Senator Biden wants to act on all of their recommendations.
* Help First Responders Communicate: America's first responders still cannot easily communicate with each other in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. Why? The communications equipment between a unit of the National Guard, the local fire fighter or cop, or other first responders is not all interoperable. Senator Biden wants to give first responders the equipment they need, so if there is a disaster like Hurricane Katrina or another attack, dedicated professionals or volunteers can do their jobs.
THE BIDEN PLAN FOR RAIL SECURITY: Harden Soft Targets, Coordinate Efforts and Re-route Hazardous Chemicals Shipments
Protecting Rail Systems: Our rail systems are also vulnerable to terrorist attack. Rail systems are the most widely targeted systems in the world, and our intelligence communities have found evidence that terrorists have targeted our rail systems. While we can't protect every inch of track, we can protect the critical infrastructure - stations, tunnels, bridges, hazardous shipments - most likely to be targeted.
* The Rail Security Act: Recognizing the vulnerability of our nation's rail systems, Senator Biden introduced legislation to dramatically increase rail security just one week after September 11th. Senator Biden's rail security proposals became law as a part of the "Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007."
* Re-routing hazardous materials: The Naval Research Laboratory has estimated that a 90-ton rail tanker carrying hazardous materials such as deadly chlorine could kill or injure up to 100,000 citizens if targeted by a terrorist in an urban area. Senator Biden led the effort to pass legislation requiring the federal government to work with the rail industry to route those shipments along the safest routes available where they are less vulnerable to terrorist attack.
* Establishing a Federal Rail Police Department: Each rail company employs a private rail police agency. These agencies have varying authorities under federal and state law and, many times, function as a security force to protect against vandalism rather than focus on counter-terrorism efforts. The Amtrak Police Department has made great strides since September 11th, however, it is limited by funding and authority. Because security efforts must be coordinated across state lines, Senator Biden has proposed the establishment of a National Rail Police to ensure that rail passengers are safe and hazardous shipments are protected.
* Supporting Amtrak, its commuters, and its workers: Delaware is home to major Amtrak facilities in Bear and Wilmington, providing over 1,000 jobs for hard-working Delawareans dedicated to keeping Amtrak a viable national rail system. Nationally, Amtrak carries 25 million passengers a year. It deserves the type of federal commitment we have already given to the highway and aviation systems. In every other advanced industrial economy, and in most developing nations as well, passenger rail receives more funding and support than in the United States. Senator Biden believes that we should give Amtrak the support it deserves.