Naperville and Aurora have secured the state's largest federal grant to help prepare for a potential terrorist attack.
The $1.3 million award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help the two cities plan and conduct training exercises for how to handle a terrorist strike.
With a combined population of roughly 350,000, the towns applied jointly for the funding, thinking any terrorist activity that affects one likely will spill into the other, Aurora Emergency Management Coordinator Joseph Jones said in a news release.
"Regional capability-sharing between Aurora and Naperville would be essential in the response to a complex, coordinated terror attack," Jones said.
FEMA recently awarded three-year grants to Naperville/Aurora and 29 other emergency management jurisdictions across the country. The money is allocated to help communities prepare for what's called a complex, coordinated terrorist attack, similar to those that have taken lives in Boston, San Bernardino, Paris and other global cities.
"This grant provides us with a tremendous opportunity to enhance the safety of the entire region by developing a system to identify gaps, educate, train, analyze and implement changes to prepare our area, to first prevent, and, if needed, respond to a terrorist attack," Naperville Emergency Management Coordinator Dan Nelson said in a news release.
Naperville and Aurora police and firefighters already use the same digital radio system to communicate, and the cities have cooperated in the past on Homeland Security training.
This grant takes the safety collaboration a step further by allowing the municipalities to jointly pursue a three-year plan to improve readiness for a terrorist strike. Goals in the plan include reviewing critical infrastructure, developing continuity-of-operations plans for all agencies and levels of government that would respond to a terrorist attack and adopting common response tactics for first responders across the region.
The cities plan to share all terrorism response processes they approve with local, regional, state and national partners.