Counterterrorism efforts may be getting an update and upgrade in New York, following new recommendations from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s counterterrorism advisory panel.
After conducting a preliminary evaluation of the state’s counterterrorism assets, policies, and overall security posture, the panel offered several recommendations for New York.
Those recommendations included increased coordination among the state's counterterrorism agencies and authorities; strengthened security at airports, bridges, tunnels, mass gathering sites and other major assets throughout the state; and additional restrictions to further limit terrorists' access to certain lethal weapons.
"As we've seen time and again, terrorism is an ever-present threat, and we will do everything in our power to help ensure that New Yorkers are safe from whatever extremists try to send our way," Cuomo said. "In order to continue to combat this changing and complex threat to New York, we will take concrete steps to implement the recommendations from our bipartisan national experts."
The panel is comprised of Chair Kenneth L. Wainstein, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell and former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush; Raymond W. Kelly, former New York City Police Commissioner; and Lisa O. Monaco, former Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama.
“In today's challenging times, public safety must be government's highest priority,” Wainstein stated. “I commend both the Governor for his determined focus on protecting New Yorkers and the New York law enforcement community for its dedication to the counterterrorism mission and its invaluable cooperation with our panel's work.
"New York has long established itself as a leader in preparedness, but it is always trying to improve its counterterrorism defenses to meet the evolving threat. I believe our recommendations will help the state do just that."
Among the recommendations is to further strengthen security and readiness at Penn Station and other transportation hubs, including JFK and LaGuardia airports. It is calling for “state-of-the-art joint command centers at Penn Station and other hubs to ensure law enforcement leaders can communicate in a centralized location and access the same real-time information before, during, and after a crisis.”
"Every day, our country is facing evolving threats from those who seek to do us harm. It is paramount that we constantly adapt our security measures in order to stay properly prepared,” Kelly added.
According to Cuomo, “it is critical that State agencies have access to, and utilize, state-of-the-art technologies to protect the public at transit hubs and other locations. “ The panel is calling on new cameras, explosive detectors and other technologies. It is also recommending working with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to assess such sites across the state and take steps to increase security. As part of this effort, the panel recommends that the state strengthen existing counterterrorism programs such as risk assessments, law enforcement training, and "red team" exercises focused on large mass-gathering events.
Additionally, the panel is hopeful of improving counterterrorism defenses that may require legislation, including closing a loophole in order to prohibit owning or selling a bump stock, criminalizing the weaponization of drones, regulating binary explosives, and measures to deter terrorists from renting trucks to use in vehicle ramming attacks.
The panel is also recommending “a senior counterterrorism advisor to enhance statewide coordination.”
"In light of recent events, it is imperative that our country is properly prepared to combat any threat we may face,” Monaco stated. “Our environment is constantly evolving, and states must be able to adapt and expand their security measures. Gov. Cuomo and his administration have done an impressive job in properly securing New York, and should serve as a model for the rest of the nation.”
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