Niagara Gazette — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called Tuesday for additional funding to support counter-terrorism efforts by the region's leading transportation agency.
In a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Schumer asked for an application for anti-terrorism funding submitted by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's Transit Authority Police Department be given top priority in light of numerous recent threats to Western New York and the surrounding region, as well as the Boston Marathon bombing.
“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," Schumer said, referring to the recent foiling of plot to disrupt rail service in Canada near the Falls. "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.
"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," Schumer continued.
Specifically, Schumer wants the federal government to use grant funds to support the NFTA's counter-terrorism team which consists of six transit police department officers and its two explosive detection dogs. Schumer said the unit will run out of funding and be forced to disband in May unless additional federal dollars are made available.
Schumer's office credited the team coordinates counterterrorism efforts with the Buffalo Police, FBI, DHS and 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.