“I know that for some of you here this morning, these memories are all too real,” Napolitano said in her remarks at the site. “You were among the policemen, firemen and emergency personnel who ran toward the towers as they were burning so that you could save others. Some of you stayed in the days and weeks ahead, working on the pile – memorializing those who were gone. All of you lost colleagues, friends, loved ones. Every American joins you in mourning those we lost – here in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.”
While discussing how to better protect the nation from possible future attacks, Napolitano stressed the importance of interconnectedness and mutual responsibility – a “hometown-centric” approach – and added that first responders play a vital role.
“As first responders, you are the critical link in our nation’s security and preparedness. You are often the first to identify a potential threat or recognize a larger trend that you’re seeing in your communities. In a way, you are ‘first preventers’ as well as first responders. And we have a responsibility get you the kind of tools and training you want and need to do your job,” she said.
Napolitano explained that DHS is working to strengthen its networks and relationships through new fusion centers, which will serve as focal points for information sharing among federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners. She said 72 fusion centers should be operating by the end of the year. In addition, billions of dollars in grants have helped fund states, cities, law enforcement and first responders, as well as Recovery Act funds.
“Today, on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, I can pledge to you this: We will do everything in our power to prevent attacks, and to prepare ourselves,” Napolitano said on Sept. 10. “At DHS, a fundamental part of that obligation is to get information, tools and resources into the hands of people who can use them to help all of us be more secure …We’ll all build, and be part, of a bigger, smarter, stronger team. And that’s how we'll keep America safe.”