Exercises Included Increased Focus on Shipping and Self-Storage Facilities, Commercial Airports and Mass Gathering Locations
More Than 3,500 Exercises Conducted Statewide Since 2016
Shoppers Encouraged to be Mindful of Their Surroundings During Holiday Season
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Counter Terrorism conducted more than 1,000 counter terrorism exercises throughout the state for the second consecutive year. During these exercises, state and local counter terrorism experts work in tandem to assess the ability of businesses to recognize and report suspicious activity. The Governor mandated more counter terrorism exercises be completed in his 2016 State of the State address, and DHSES has delivered with more than 3,500 exercises completed to date. DHSES also partnered with law enforcement to complete 57 counter terrorism and incident response exercises at rail stations as part of "Operation NY-SECURE."
"Preparation and readiness are key to any successful emergency response, and these exercises play a critical role in strengthening law enforcement's counter terrorism preparedness," Governor Cuomo said. "These counter terrorism operations serve as a reminder to businesses and the general public to stay alert and report suspicious activity when they see it."
The Office of Counter Terrorism partnered with more than 400 law enforcement personnel from over 100 agencies to conduct these exercises. During each exercise, counter terrorism experts from state and local agencies go undercover as customers and assess the ability of businesses to recognize and report suspicious activity. Teams assessed 175 hardware and agricultural stores, 112 truck rental locations, 93 drone retailers, 92 big box retailers, 79 self-storage facilities, 78 private shipping facilities, 74 hotels, and 24 gun and sporting goods stores, among others.
Additionally, teams assessed over 200 infrastructure locations which have the potential to be exploited or targeted during an attack. This includes locations such as stadiums and arenas, malls and shopping centers, hospitals, colleges and universities, airports, transit hubs and other mass-gathering locations. Officials from the Office of Counter Terrorism provided training to leadership staff and employees at several venues to raise awareness of the indicators of terrorism, how to recognize it and report suspicious activity.
New York Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, "All New Yorkers have a role in preventing terrorism, and reporting suspicious activity to the proper authorities is one of the most effective ways citizens can contribute to public safety. These exercises not only allow businesses to take a step back and evaluate their own awareness, but they also provide them an opportunity to work directly with law enforcement experts on improvements and next steps."
DHSES also partnered with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct "Operation NY-SECURE" which included counter terrorism and emergency response exercises along Amtrak routes and MTA commuter lines. The Operation's goal is to improve coordination and response between railroad police agencies responsible for each station and the state and local law enforcement agencies who respond to emergencies at those locations. These visible, proactive exercises included heightened platform patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosive detection canine sweeps and counter-surveillance measures. Operation NY-SECURE completed 12 multi-station exercises at Amtrak and MTA stations along the Empire Line and 45 additional events at single stations across the State.
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism, natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.