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Schumer Announces Push To Include New Airport Security Proposal To The FAA Reauthorization Legislation; Urges Colleagues To Immediately Pass Proposal Which Will Strengthen Upstate NY’s Most Vulnerable Targets

Proposal Will Enhance Security In The Non-Secure “Soft” Target Areas At Airports, Such As Check-In And Baggage Claim Areas; Senator Will Also Push To Increase Presence Of Federal Agents With Bomb-Sniffing Canines At Non-Secure, Perimeter Areas At Airports

Schumer: Upstate NY Needs More Common Sense Airport Security in Response to Brussels Attacks

During a conference call with reporters,U.S.Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced a new proposal to strengthen airport security in Upstate New York, especially in non-secure “soft” target areas at airports. The proposal would also update federal security programs to provide active shooter training for law enforcement and increase the presence of federal agents with bomb-sniffing canines at these non-secure areas, such as check-in and baggage claim areas. Following the recent wave of terror attacks in Europe, Schumer urged support for vital new security provisions to be included in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation, which the Senate is expected to begin consideration on this week.

“Brussels was a harrowing reminder of the threat of terrorism at airports, and it must also serve as a wakeup call,” said Senator Schumer. “We need to tighten up security in vulnerable areas at our airports, across the country and New York State, so that the tragedy that struck Brussels doesn’t land on our own doorstep. With the diffuse lone wolf, copycat and ISIS terror threats looming, we must work fast and hard to better protect soft targets. I hope my colleagues in the Senate will hear us loud and clear when we say these common sense provisions need to be in the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill.”

Schumer explained that he, along with several Senate Democrats, are introducing an amendment to the upcoming FAA reauthorization bill that would seek to strengthen security at airports across the U.S. large and small. Schumer pointed to what happened in Brussels just last month as evidence that security needs to be stepped up in U.S. airports to ensure Americans are safe when they are in transit. Specifically, Schumer said the amendment would do three things:

  1. Create New Funding for Law Enforcement Training Active Shooter Incidents
  • Schumer explained that his proposal would create a new eligible use under the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) Specifically, SHSGP will now allow funding to be provided for training exercises to enhance preparedness for and in response to active shooter incidents at public locations, including airports, mass transit systems and other “soft target” areas.

o Schumer explained that, currently, 25 percent of SHSGP funds are used for law enforcement terrorism prevention activities. However, there is no explicit authorization for those funds to be used for training exercises for active shooter incidents events at public locations. Opening up this funding stream to provide for this additional use, Schumer said, will be beneficial for NY airports and help increase safety.

  1. Strengthen Airport and Mass Transit Security in Non-Secure Areas
  • Schumer’s proposal would also make explicit that SHSGP funding can be used for airport and surface transportation security in non-secure “soft” target areas as well.

o Schumer said this means airport security can be increased in areas like check-in stations, baggage claim zones and mass transit areas – like passenger rail, trucking, freight rail and intercity bus systems – that could be at risk and, in some cases, lead directly to airports.

  1. Expand TSA Security Teams With Bomb-Sniffing Dogs
  • Finally, Schumer’s proposal would double the number of Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams nationwide, from 30 to 60, and add their operations to non-sterile areas of an airport, such as outside of a check point, to enhance “soft target” security.

o VIPR Teams consist of a variety of operational assets that include law enforcement officials, regulatory inspectors, explosives specialists and, in some cases, screening personnel. They are recognizable to the American public because the teams often include bomb-sniffing canines. TSA VIPR deployments are coordinated with other federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and industry security partners throughout the United States.

o These VIPR teams promote confidence in and protect the nation's transportation systems through targeted deployment of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening and law enforcement capabilities at transit hubs, including airports and subways, and National Special Security Events (NSSEs). TSA works with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies to deploy these teams based on threat levels and other security priorities.

Schumer said these provisions should be included in the FAA bill to better ensure the safety of the traveling public. Schumer said providing new funding for law enforcement active shooter training, making funding available to increase safety in non-secure areas of airports and mass transit systems, and expanding the resources needed to deploy bomb-sniffing canine units to places like airports, train stations and bus depots will more effectively secure “soft” targets and protect New York travelers.

Schumer introduced this amendment with Senators Bill Nelson [D-FL], Maria Cantwell [D-IN], Amy Klobuchar [D-WA], and Martin Heinrich [D-NM].

During the call, Schumer provided a breakdown of the SHSGP that Upstate NY received in 2016. Schumer explained that while this funding is not necessarily tied to airports, the state and municipalities have used these resources for security at airports and major transportation hubs in the past. All of Upstate NY received $15,016,893 in SHSGP funding in 2016:

  • The Capital Region received $2,558,340 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schoharie, Washington

  • Central New York received $2,385,000 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Monroe, Cayuga, Cortland, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego

  • Western New York received $2,682,953 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara

  • The Finger Lakes Region received $910,000 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates

  • The Southern Tier received $1,295,000 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins

  • The Hudson Valley received $4,310,600 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, Westchester

  • The North Country received $875,000 in SHSGP funds in 2016.

o Includes the following counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Warren