Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that following the terrorist attack in Midtown Manhattan he has directed state agencies, including the New York State Police, National Guard, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to increase security at high-profile locations around the state, including airports, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems. Additional personnel are being deployed to high-density areas and large public gatherings. These are precautionary measures, not based on any specific intelligence on ongoing threats.
"Today we are reminded yet again that the principles of freedom and democracy that New York represents have made us a target for those who seek to disrupt our way of life," Governor Cuomo said. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are stepping up security measures at high-profile locations and transportation hubs while the investigation progresses. We will remain vigilant. I want to thank our first responders and all other personnel who continue to risk their own lives every day in the service of their fellow New Yorkers, and I encourage everyone to go about their business and live their lives without fear."
State Police & National Guard
The New York State Police responded immediately to the incident and remain on scene working with the NYPD and other state and federal law enforcement partners. The Governor has also directed the State Police to double the number of Troopers assigned to the major transportation hubs in New York City. They have been on a heightened state of alert since before the start of the holiday season, and will continue to have an increased presence at critical state infrastructure and transportation facilities. The New York National Guard were also among the first to respond on scene. They have doubled their presence and will continue to coordinate with their law enforcement partners to provide additional assistance as needed.
Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in contact with key local public safety officials in New York City including NYPD, Port Authority, and MTA, as well the FBI. Commissioner Roger Parrino along with key staff from the Office of Emergency Management and Office of Counter Terrorism are on the scene or in route. The New York State Emergency Operations Center, as a precaution, has activated to Level 4 enhanced monitoring. The Division remains in a state of readiness and prepared to disseminate information to our public safety partners statewide as necessary.
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
Port Authority Police has have doubled its presence and remains on heightened alert at all of the agency's bridge, tunnel, rail, World Trade Center and other facilities. Actions include increased patrols and checks of bags, buses, trucks and trains at agency locations. Travelers are reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities to police or other authorities.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
The MTA has increased its patrols and surveillance in order to provide heightened protection across all its agencies. The MTA Police Department has stepped up its uniformed and plainclothes presence in Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal as well as other major stations throughout the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road network. Police canine teams and units with heavy weapons will provide extra protection as well as a noticeable sign of increased security. Railroad customers will also see surge patrols, increased step-on/step-off patrols of trains, and random bag checks at various locations.
Behind the scenes, the MTA Police Department, MTA New York City Transit security and MTA Bridges and Tunnels Officers share intelligence information and coordinate their threat response with other police and security agencies to ensure a seamless web of protection throughout the region.
New York State Police and the New York National Guard members have been assigned to high-profile MTA locations for more than a year, and they are helping secure these locations as well as reassuring the public that the authorities are dedicated to ensuring their safety. The MTA closely monitors large public events that occur in or near its facilities and will provide heightened awareness of activities there.
The MTA works closely with the NYPD to secure New York's subways and buses, and MTA Bridges and Tunnels Officers are using a mix of visual and technological surveillance to ensure safety at its seven bridges and two tunnels in New York City.
Last week, Governor Cuomo launched a counterterrorism advisory panel, chaired by Kenneth L. Wainstein, partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, and former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. The advisory panel also includes Raymond W. Kelly, the former New York City Police Commissioner under both Mayors David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg, and Lisa O. Monaco, the former Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama. After agreeing to chair the panel, Mr. Wainstein immediately started an in-depth evaluation of the state's counterterrorism assets, authorities, and overall effectiveness, which will result in recommendations for enhanced coordination among the state's counterterrorism authorities and strengthened security at airports, bridges, tunnels and other major assets throughout the state. Those recommendations will be formulated in conjunction with Mr. Kelly and Ms. Monaco, and delivered to the Governor in time to inform his 2018 State of the State and Budget addresses. After delivery of its initial recommendations, the panel will continue its important work, developing execution plans for their initial recommendations, further studying the state's readiness to meet today's terrorist threat, and developing other possible proposals that will enhance the effectiveness of our counterterrorism program.
"If You See Something, Say Something"
New Yorkers are reminded to stay alert to their surroundings, and to report any suspicious activity. Reports can be made to the Counter Terrorism Center at the New York State Intelligence Center via its terrorism tip line: 1-866-SAFENYS (1-866-723-3697); or by email: email@example.com.
New Yorkers can also download See Something, Send Something on your smartphone to inform authorities of a potential threat. Visit https://www.ny.gov/programs/see-something-send-something for more information.
Photo Credit: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit