Counter Terrorism Teams Conducted Exercises at a Variety of Businesses, Critical Infrastructure Sites and Rail Stations

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Conducted Over 4,200 Exercises Statewide Since 2016

Citizens Encouraged to be Mindful of Their Surroundings During Holiday

Season and Report Suspicious Activity to Law Enforcement

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ (DHSES) Office of Counter Terrorism conducted training exercises at more than 600 locations statewide in 2021. Counter terrorism experts from state and local agencies completed exercises assessing the ability of businesses to recognize and report suspicious activity in nearly every county in the state. More than 4,200 exercises have been conducted across New York since 2016.

“As Governor, I always want to ensure New Yorkers are safe and prepared for any and all risks that threaten our collective security,” Governor Hochul said. “These annual exercises are critical to this effort as they not only help ensure businesses statewide know how to spot suspicious activity, but understand their own responsibilities and how to make a report as well.”

The Office of Counter Terrorism partnered with more than 360 law enforcement personnel from 76 agencies to conduct the exercises. Teams conducted exercises at a wide range of businesses that offer products or services that could be used in potential terrorist plots. In 2021, teams worked with hardware and building supply stores; hotels and motels; big box retailers; rental vehicle companies; private postal facilities; UAS or drone retailers; agricultural supply stores; grocery stores; beauty and nail supply stores; pool supply stores; self-storage facilities, and gun shops and shows. Teams also assessed 70 critical infrastructure locations that terrorists could exploit or target for an attack. Location examples included malls and shopping centers, colleges and universities, airports, transit hubs, performance venues and other mass-gathering locations.

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Acting Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “Our Division is committed to helping protect the citizens of New York, as well as the state’s critical infrastructure locations, from acts of terrorism. I thank all those involved in these exercises and our partners in law enforcement for helping raise awareness of the key indicators of suspicious activity. I urge businesses and the public to be mindful of their surroundings and to report suspicious activity to the New York State Terrorism Tip Line at 1-866-SAFENYS.”

State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen 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. We are committed to doing everything necessary to ensure local and state first responders are ready to respond to, and mitigate, any type of emergency situation. Exercises like this help us to better our existing safety protocols and help us prepare to work hand in hand if disaster should strike and ultimately, keeps New Yorkers safe.”

Operation NY-SECURE

In addition to the more than 600 exercises, the Division 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. The Operation’s goal is to 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, proactive details included heightened platform patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosive detection canine sweeps and counter-surveillance measures. In 2021, Operation NY-SECURE completed 74 details across the state. Teams conducted 62 single station details across the state, and 12 multi-station exercises at Amtrak and MTA stations along the Empire Line. Since the program’s inception in 2018, law enforcement teams have conducted more than 215 details across the state. The details will continue in 2022.

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.