Recommendations Include: Enhancing Counterterrorism Coordination at Major Transportation Hubs, Exploring State-of-the-Art Security Technology, Expanding Counterterrorism Risk Assessments and Training, Addressing Emerging Terrorist Tactics, Designating a Senior Counterterrorism Advisor and Convening Statewide Counterterrorism Council
The Counterterrorism Advisory Panel's Report is Available Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the expert counterterrorism advisory panel he commissioned has delivered its recommendations for strengthening New York's counterterrorism readiness. The panel is comprised of Chair Kenneth L. Wainstein, 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.
"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," Governor 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 conducted a preliminary evaluation of New York's counterterrorism assets, policies, and overall security posture. Its report commends New York for its counterterrorism efforts and recommends certain enhancements, including 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. The panel also suggests designating a new Senior Counterterrorism Advisor and creating a Statewide Counterterrorism Council consisting of relevant Commissioners.
Enhancing Coordination at Penn Station and Other Major Transportation Hubs
Transportation hubs remain one of the most attractive targets for terrorist attacks due to their high volume of traffic. Consequently, the panel recommends steps to further strengthen security and readiness at Penn Station and other hubs including John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airports. Among its recommendations, the panel calls for establishing 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.
Exploring Technology Enhancements at State Properties
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 recommends that the State review the use and effectiveness of new and existing security technologies, including advanced cameras; explosives and hazardous materials detectors; drones; and bomb disposal robots, as well as upgrade or procure additional technology to ensure maximum protection. In addition, the panel recommends the State invest in portablecrash barriers and bollards to prevent vehicle-ramming attacks at large outdoor and mass gathering events.
Expanding Counterterrorism Trainings and Risk Assessments
In light of relatively recent attacks at large-scale events such as outdoor concerts, the panel recommends working with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities 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.
Addressing Emerging Terrorist Tactics
The panel recommends several measures to improve 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.
Designating a Senior Counterterrorism Advisor to Enhance Statewide Coordination
The panel identified enhancing statewide counterterrorism coordination as a key priority. As part of this goal, the panel recommends that the Governor designate a Senior Counterterrorism Advisor to oversee a new multi-agency Statewide Counterterrorism Council. The council will be comprised of the heads of key agencies and authorities (or their designees), including:
- Commissioner, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
- Superintendent, New York State Police
- Adjutant General of New York, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs
- Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
- Chairman, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
- Commissioner, New York State Department of Transportation
- Executive Director, New York State Thruway Authority
Kenneth L. Wainstein, partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell and former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, said, "In today's challenging times, public safety must be government's highest priority. 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."
Raymond W. Kelly, former New York City Police Commissioner, said, "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. I thank Governor Cuomo for his dedication to public safety, and for working with us to ensure that New Yorkers remain safe."
Lisa O. Monaco, former Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, said, "In light of recent events, it is imperative that our country is properly prepared to combat any threat we may face. Our environment is constantly evolving, and states must be able to adapt and expand their security measures. Governor 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."