Congressman fights to restore funding for better protecting 'soft targets'

Security officials say Chicago’s Draft Town is a prime example of what they call a "soft target."

Terrorists have attacked such "soft targets" in Europe. Congress recently cut protective Homeland Security grants in half, but some are fighting to get that funding restored.

While most innocent victims killed by in Paris last year were gunned down at a music club, three suicide bombers who had planned to massacre fans at a sold-out soccer stadium nearby never got in. They were foiled by security forces outside the event. 

Fans heard muffled explosions as terrorists outside blew themselves up, but the crowd stayed safe. That's what North Side Congressman Mike Quigley wants for big events in Chicago. But as a ranking Democrat on a House Intelligence subcommittee, he says it would be easier if Congress had not eliminated half the Federal dollars that help local law enforcement in lots of ways.

“Equipment, training, overtime for police. We have so many large events. Think about the concerts that come to town: Lollapalooza! Two baseball teams, a hockey team, football, hockey,” said Rep. Mike Quigley.

Quigley called Congress foolish for cutting 50 percent of homeland security grants to local governments. One grant went to install cameras at the Chicago Transit Authority.

“The CTA used about $10 million of this money to put cameras through a lot of their stations. In addition to making us safer from terror plots, it reduced crime on an everyday basis about 50 percent, “Quigley said.

FOX 32’s Mike Flannery: This sounds like one of the stupidest cuts I've ever heard of!

“Unfortunately, it's gone unnoticed. I'm hoping the unfortunate tragedies in Paris and in Brussels will draw attention to this,” Quigley added.

Quigley said he's trying to do exactly that on the House Appropriations Committee. He's the only Illinoisan on that clout-heavy body.