In the aftermath of the deadly domestic terrorist attack in lower Manhattan, Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino today outlined a series of anti-terrorism initiatives in place to ensure the public’s safety and said that police patrols have been increased at parkways, parks and other popular gathering places.
Joined by George N. Longworth, commissioner of Westchester County’s Department of Public Safety, and members of law enforcement, the County Executive discussed Westchester’s preparedness, which includes measures already in place to safeguard against any potential copycat crimes, lone-wolf attacks or terrorist activities that could potentially prey on innocent civilians.
“We are always assessing real-world threats, and working closely with our partners on the federal, state and local levels,” Astorino said. “In these times we live in, we must always be vigilant. The public can be rest-assured that we are as prepared as we can be for an attack like the horrific and cowardly one that occurred yesterday. Our intelligence gathering, counter-terrorism efforts and stepped-up patrols are in place to protect residents, businesses and critical infrastructure in Westchester from potential terrorist activity.”
Astorino also offered condolences to the victims of the attack and their families.
“The people of Westchester share the sorrow and anger being felt by those most impacted by this awful event,” Astorino said. “We have also offered our assistance to New York City and stand ready to help in any way that we can.”
Both Astorino and Longworth noted that county police detectives are assigned to the F.B.I.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force – made up of federal, state and local law enforcement to ensure proper coordination – and were on scene in lower Manhattan immediately following yesterday’s attack, gathering information in real-time to assess any further threats from the incident, including the potential in Westchester.
Members of the Westchester County Police are also regularly engaged in a wide variety of counter-terrorism efforts every day, Astorino said. Among safeguards in place and actions taken include:
· Increased police patrols along county parkways, parks and other popular gathering places.
· All patrol officers carry radiation detection pagers that enable law enforcement to identify and interdict a dirty bomb if it passed through Westchester.
· The county’s Aviation Unit helicopter and Marine Unit patrol boats regularly conduct patrols around critical infrastructure locations, including the Tappan Zee Bridge and Indian Point power plant, to name just a few.
· The members of the county Bomb Squad have the sophisticated training needed to respond to any incident involving a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The squad is capable of dealing with incidents involving chemical, biological or radiological devices.
· County police have a canine unit with dogs that specialize in identifying bombs and electronic devices used in cyber-crime.
· The county police are part of the Westchester Intelligence Center, located in White Plains, which includes investigators from Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, Department of Public Safety and multiple local law enforcement agencies, along with civilian crime analysts.