By Bill Parry
In the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks worldwide, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing), called for passage of their legislation which would implement advanced security measures at transit networks.
During a briefing at Grand Central Terminal Sunday, the two lawmakers pointed to the March 22 Brussels attacks that targeted the subway system and airport, and renewed their push for a state level review of security at all MTA facilities.
“One only needs to turn on the television to know that transportation infrastructure is a prime terrorist target,” Gianaris said. “Allowing anti-terrorism experts to provide input on enhanced security measures will ensure we are providing the maximum protection for those riding our subways and commuter trains.”
The proposed legislation would require the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to carry out regular and comprehensive assessments of security on all MTA systems, including the city subways, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North stations. Additional security measures recommended by the review would prevent persons from causing harm through the damage and destruction of the critical infrastructure of the MTA, protecting the public and public transit.
“With what happened in Brussels, it’s obviously brought renewed attention to the vulnerabilities of the subways and transportation infrastructure,” Gianaris said. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings at the Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek subway station downtown killed 32 people and injured at least 270.
“With continuous terrorism threats worldwide, it is important that we utilize available resources to strengthen our transit system’s security,” Rozic said. “The MTA is responsible for moving hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every day and by bringing in the Department of Homeland Security for a thorough review, we would be taking critical steps to ensure their everyday safety.”
Also on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on DHS to fast-track testing of a detector technology that can identify ISIS’ go-to explosive, TATP, formally known as triacetone triperoxide. The new explosive detector has proven successful in laboratory settings in sniffing out the highly volatile explosive powder, known as “Mother of Satan,” but requires more field testing before it can be formally deployed to U.S. airports and train stations.
“DHS must get this very promising TATP-sniffing technology on the fast track for testing and final deployment because the stakes are just too high,” Schumer said. “Recent terror attacks have seen this specific homemade explosive used, and so we cannot waste a second knowing we may have a technology that could detect it down to the molecule. Our airports, train stations and more could be made even safer with this kind of detector and that is why we must do all we can to get this technology out the door and into our transportation hubs.”
He is urging the DHS to fast-track testing in the hopes of installing the technology in New York City as soon as possible.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr