Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Counter Terrorism conducted training exercises at more than 1,100 locations statewide in 2023. Counter terrorism experts from over 80 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies completed exercises assessing the ability of businesses to recognize and report suspicious activity in nearly every county in the state. More than 6,300 exercises have been conducted across New York since 2016. Law enforcement teams and Office of Counter Terrorism staff also completed nearly 89 NY-SECURE rail counter terrorism details in 2023 to remind travelers of the importance of ‘See Something, Say Something.’
“Public safety is my top priority, and these exercises help educate the employees at businesses and the public across the state on how to spot suspicious activity and report it to law enforcement,” Governor Hochul said. “I thank law enforcement and homeland security personnel for their continued support of these important programs that safeguard the public.”
Law enforcement teams across the state conducted exercises involving over 400 law enforcement personnel in each of the state’s 16 counter terrorism zones. As part of this process, teams assessed suspicious activity reporting and recognition at 860 retailers and businesses that sell chemicals, compounds, components, services, or rent space or resources that could be exploited by those with nefarious intent. Additionally, teams assessed more than 200 infrastructure locations across the state. These included locations such as stadiums and arenas, malls and shopping centers, colleges and universities, airports, transit hubs and other mass-gathering locations. Approximately 40 percent of the locations tested in 2023 were new and not tested in previous years. The partnership between state counter terrorism analysts and law enforcement helped identify these new locations for testing.
Engagement with these stakeholders has increased public vigilance and suspicious activity reporting. Since the state-coordinated effort was launched in 2016, suspicious activity reporting to the NYS Terrorism Tips Line during these exercises has increased 30 percent, demonstrating effective outreach and training.
New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “New York’s threat landscape continues to grow more diverse, and this program helps ensure business owners and their employees know how to identify suspicious activity when they observe it and report it, which helps keep all New Yorkers safe. These exercises, which include counter terrorism details along the rail lines, remain an important part of the state’s public safety outreach. I remind all New Yorkers, if you see something, say something to law enforcement immediately.”
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento said, “Educating businesses and the public on how to spot suspicious activity and notify law enforcement is a critical part of protecting our communities from the threat of terrorism. Planning, coordination, and training are all necessary to ensure local and state first responders are ready to work collaboratively to mitigate any type of emergency situation. These exercises are indispensable to our continuous efforts to protect and keep New Yorkers safe.”
The State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services also partnered with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in “Operation NY-SECURE” to conduct counter terrorism and incident response details along Amtrak routes and MTA commuter lines. These details help improve coordination and response between the railroad police agencies responsible for each station, and the state and local law enforcement agencies that respond to emergencies at those locations. These visible, unannounced details included heightened platform patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosive detection canine sweeps and counter-surveillance measures. In 2023, Operation NY-SECURE completed 89 details across the state. Teams conducted 77 single station details across the state, and 12 multi-station details at Amtrak and MTA stations along the Empire Line. Since the program’s inception in 2018, law enforcement teams have conducted 447 details across the state. These details will continue in 2024.