As New York City has showing off its terrorist response skills—the NYPD's bigger-than-ever counterterrorism unit; an active shooter drill attended by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security—Governor Cuomo wants to remind New Yorkers that he's on it as well, by unveiling a new smartphone app and announcing that 46 additional MTA police officers would be hired. "These new efforts are essential pieces in our fight against terrorism," Cuomo said.
The governor's statement continued, "We have stepped up our preparedness in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, and we continue to remain vigilant against those who seek to spread fear and violence. Despite the tremendous pain and loss that terrorist attacks around the world have caused the people of this state, the family of New York stands stronger than ever before."
The app, "See Something, Send Something," will allow users to send photos of suspicious activity to the New York State Intelligence Center. According to the press release, "From there, the tip will be reviewed and if relevant, sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Public service announcements promoting the campaign will be played at DMV offices and service areas along state highways." Here's the video:
By using the app, which can be downloaded for free for iPhone and Android phone users, there is no worry about who to send the tip to or what phone number to call—users can simply send a photo of the suspicious activity using their device’s camera, by choosing a photo from its library, or sending a written note. It also includes information on what to look for and when to report suspicious activity. The service is already available in Colorado, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
In order to keep the app focused on safety, users should report only suspicious behavior and situations (e.g., an unattended backpack or briefcase in a public place) rather than beliefs, thoughts, ideas, expressions, associations, or speech unrelated to terrorism or other criminal activity. The app does not replace 911 and should not to be used for someone needing immediate police action or to report an emergency. In the case of an immediate threat or emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
The new MTA police officers will be used for "counterterrorism surge assignments at Grand Central and Penn Station, as well as other deployments to ensure the traveling public is protected in the MTA network." This will cost $3 million and is already included into the MTA budget, which will be considered next month.
And, like the NYPD, the governor's office says, "All members of the MTA Police Department have been trained in techniques to counter active shooters, such as those who have been implicated in recent terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world. Rather than wait for heavily-armed Emergency Service Unit teams to arrive, officers are taught to immediately engage, pin down and neutralize any potential threat in order to minimize casualties."
The NY State Department of Homeland Security has tips on seeing something and saying something, like learning how to accurately report suspicious behavior. It's unclear when they will launch the app for cat-related social media.