By Mark Hallum
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (DNY) is calling for better technology to be fast-tracked for approval by security agencies to keep the city safe against terrorist attacks following the one which shook the Port Authority Dec. 11.
The hardware Schumer referred to is already in the hands of Transportation Security Administration and could be deployed to detect small devices used in attacks on the city’s subways, he claimed.
“The fact that we have this new, potentially life-saving technology at our fingertips – an ability to detect concealed explosives worn by cowards looking to do us harm – demands the federal government put both the testing and the perfecting of this technology on the fast-track. We not only want these devices in America’s busiest cities, like New York, but we need them here,” Schumer said. “So, today, I am urging the TSA to bring these devices to New York City, test them in our subways, in Penn Station, in our airports, and, if they work as well as touted, pursue an expedited seal of approval that gives all of us another layer of security to fend off would be lone wolf terror. As the threats we face evolve our preparedness and response must evolve as well to remain a step ahead of evil doers.”
Schumer said the TSA has been developing technology known as Stand Off Explosive Detection, which helps identify individuals with explosives by screening the natural emissions emanating from a person’s body. SOED has been in development since 2004 and has already been used to secure events such as the Super Bowl.
The Dec. 11 attack happened at about 7 a.m. and injured four commuters, including the bomber, as they passed through a tunnel linking 42nd Street – Times Square station with the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Akayed Ullah, 27, from Bangledesh, was identified as the man responsible and had the homemade explosive device strapped to his torso, police said.
Ullah was later hit with a variety of terror charges, including criminal possession of a weapon, supporting an act of terrorism and making a terroristic threat, according to NYPD.
One of the victims, Veronica Chavez from Corona, escaped the attack to be treated for minor injuries at Mount Sinai West.
“There was smoke everywhere and debris falling,” Chavez told the Daily News following the experience. “My ears were ringing. They haven’t stopped ringing. All I kept thinking is, I want to see my children again. If something happened to me, who will care for them?”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall