August 9, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Issuance of Guidance to Support Counties' Development of Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Issuance of Guidance to Support Counties' Development of Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans

In Wake of Buffalo Attack, Governor Hochul Issued Executive Order 18 Requiring Each County and the City of New York to Develop Plans to Confront Domestic Terrorism, Including Racially and Ethnically-Motivated Violence

Summit Focused on Development of Local Threat Assessment and Management Teams

Governor Hochul: "I issued an Executive Order directing every single county in the City of New York to develop plans to identify and confront the threats of domestic terrorism. What we're talking about over the next couple of days is to help you prepare for that."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the issuance of new guidance for counties throughout New York to support the development of Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans which each county and the City of New York are responsible for developing under Executive Order 18. The Governor discussed the importance of devising Domestic Terrorism Prevention Plans during today's virtual remarks as part of a two-day Threat Assessment and Management Summit hosted by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its Office of Counter Terrorism at the State Emergency Preparedness Center in Oriskany.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us, some remotely and some in person. I've been to Oriskany before. I actually did the EVOC training on the track. I didn't do so well, so I had to go to another avenue, but I've always been intrigued with the training programs that we've been able to offer there. When I was in local government years ago, we used to send members of our town police force to Oriskany for training as well. So, you're in the right place. It's not a new venue for most of you, but it's a place where we believe that it's a perfect place to impart ideas to you, but also to bring back ideas from all of you who are literally in the streets and on the ground, on the frontline of our battle to protect the homeland.

We have a stellar leader and Commissioner, Jackie Bray. I want to thank her for her vision, the way she approaches the questions. And I was listening to her a little bit earlier and she phrases it exactly the way I do: are we ready to meet the threat? And there's no shame in saying we're not, it's simply saying that there are forces out there that are spending day and night trying to thwart our efforts, and our responsibility is to make sure that we're ahead of it and share information. So, the role you play in fighting homegrown terrorist threats is critical. You're at the tip of the spear. You'll take what you learn here, bring it back to your communities, train the trainer and this is so important.

As you heard from the Commissioner, our number one responsibility is so crystal clear, so simple: it is simply to keep New Yorkers safe. And as you heard and you know, one of the biggest threats we face as a state is something that is happening within our borders, domestic terrorism and specifically white supremacist extremism. And it's not just us saying that there are a couple of big cases. The number of cases has more than tripled from 2011 to nearly 70, 73 cases last year alone. And the ADL's report is more than 600 extremist incidents in New York State just last year. More than half of them being organized dissemination of white supremacist information.

So, New Yorkers have been victimized. These are our residents, these are our fellow neighbors and that is why there's a sense of urgency with how we approach this. And yes, you all know this, I know it very well. I spend a tremendous amount of time there, but when we saw what happened on May 14th, an individual who was radicalized, an 18-year-old radicalized by white supremacists and white nationalist beliefs, he opened fire at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, literally 11 minutes from where I live in the city. This is a neighborhood I know well. It's one I frequent often and terrorists still exist there. I was there two weekends ago and people are still afraid to go in a grocery store. This has affected them to their core, not just the victim families who will take a lifetime to heal, but a whole community that was paralyzed to actually think that a fellow New Yorker could travel three hours, targeting their neighborhood with one purpose. And his stated goal was to execute Black New Yorkers.

And as a result, we mourn the loss of 10 individuals. But he was not born with this hate in his heart, this shooter. He absorbed these toxic ideals and racist philosophies because they're so easily accessible on social media platforms. And in some cases, the dark web and cable news networks, and they've been mainstreamed. These antisemitic and white supremacist ideas have been mainstreamed by a lot of reckless media personalities, unaccountable social media companies and the breeding ground for this hate is mostly online. And you think about the timing, this individual - 18 years old, the last two years, he was probably isolated in his home during the pandemic, not in school.

And you just wonder how many other people were absorbing this content under those same circumstances when they didn't have the supervision of a classroom setting. So, I believe that there are probably more cases out there, more people following the example of this one person. As we also know, there are a lot of copycat cases. We studied the data.

This individual studied very closely what had happened in Christchurch, the massacre down in New Zealand. He absorbed it, he shared it. And he's not the only one doing that. So, what we've also learned is they're using violence to further their aims. They choose violence as a response to some political grievance they have or some way they've been radicalized, but here's what we have to do. We have to say, "Not in New York, not in New York and when it starts here, we'll eradicate it." And I issued an Executive Order directing every single county and the City of New York to develop plans to identify and confront the threats of domestic terrorism. What we're talking about over the next couple of days is to help you prepare for that. We're not leaving you alone. I'm well familiar with unfunded mandates having spent many years in local government, and every time we have an idea at the state level, we think is important to share and implement at the local level. I want to make sure there's money behind it, so we'll be talking about that. But we have so much to do to address this.

So, we're also asking the Homeland Security and Emergency Services to help us create Threat Assessment Management teams. And that'll not just be law enforcement, but mental health professionals, school officials and other key stakeholders to help identify and assess the threat of targeted violence. So, you're going to leave here today with a real fundamental understanding of what these teams can do. Hope you'll take that back to your communities. And as part of this, we're all keeping them protected, and also our extreme risk orders of protection and different dynamic in one sense, but not really. And we're doing so much more to support our efforts to ensure that these are filed, that the actions are taken to remove weapons from someone who's already shown a propensity, or telegraph their intent to harm individuals in a school or a workplace setting. So, you'll be getting more information about that as well.

It's something that I have a meeting with my team with regularly to make sure we can issue that information very shortly. So, we have a lot of ideas, but also we do not have a monopoly on those ideas. Many of the ideas that I think will be most helpful will come from all of you. So again, this is an opportunity for us to share data, figure out how we can, as the Commissioner said, connect the dots. That's all everybody talked about after 9/11 is why didn't we see this coming? Why didn't we connect the dots? And now with social media platforms being so widely available, they can be examined. They need to be examined because the Buffalo shooter could have been stopped in his tracks because he basically demonstrated and said what he intended to do. So, we are in the not crime solving business today, we're in the crime prevention business. And that starts with our concentrated effort on domestic terrorism.

And those of you who know my background, this is deeply personal to me as well. My husband being a federal prosecutor for over 30 years - US attorney, but before that he handled terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 and was able to eradicate a lot of threats. The first prosecution of Al-Qaeda after 9/11 in the United States to demonstrate that there were also people not just on the white supremacist front, but other areas where there are these threats, they're percolating. They're underground today. But when they show up and manifest themselves in a real actionable way, now we have communities that are terrorized. And that is what we're fighting against. We're fighting it not alone, we're fighting it together. And for that, I thank you for being part of this initiative to just protect our homeland. I can't think of a higher calling than to make sure that our neighbors and our fellow residents are safe.

So thank you, everyone. And carry on.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640