Specifically, Schumer says he will fight to see that the federal government supports the NFTA’s counter-terrorism team of six Transit Police Department Officers and its two explosive detection dogs, which will run out of federal funding and disband in May, unless new funding is secured. This team coordinates counterterrorism efforts with the Buffalo Police, FBI, DHS & Customs and Border Protection, with a particular focus on both regional airports, the light rail and the bus system – a favorite target of past terror plots in America and Europe.
“Western New York is no stranger to terror and security threats – including the plot to do unspeakable damage to a passenger train over the Whirlpool Bridge. Clearly, now is not the time to dial back on border and transit security. However, if the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t step up and approve the NFTA’s application for a counter-terrorism grant, that is exactly what could happen as the vital NFTA’s Western New York Counter-Terrorism Team would be disbanded,” said Schumer. “The Canadian terror plot, the Lackawanna Six, and the terribly unfortunate events in Boston should make us more vigilant in New York’s big cities and their transit systems, not less. I am urging the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the NFTA counter-terrorism force, so that these highly trained specialists and their canine team can continue providing expertise and doing life-saving work in Western New York.”
Last year the NFTA applied for a $1.4 million TSGP grant funds to continue to support the Counter-Terrorism Unit, but were denied the funding due to a lack of availability. This year, the NFTA is not only applying request support for the Counter-Terrorism Unit, but will also seek continued funding for crowd-control support at large Buffalo Events and other transit security measures. Schumer is urging DHS to fund this critical program this year, because he says any further delays would lead to disbandment of the Unit.