Video, Audio, Photos and Quick Transcript: Governor Hochul Announces Release of Guidance to Support County Development of National Terrorism Prevention Plans
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the release of new guidance for New York counties to support the development of domestic terrorism prevention plans that each county and New York City are responsible for developing. under Executive Order 18. The Governor discussed the importance of developing national terrorism prevention plans during today’s virtual remarks as part of a two-day Summit on Assessment and Threat Management hosted by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its Office of Counterterrorism at the State Emergency Preparedness Center in Oriskany.
SOUND of the event is available here.
PICTURES of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page.
A quick transcript of the Governor’s remarks is available below:
Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us, some remotely and some in person. I have already been to Oriskany. I actually did the EVOC track training. I didn’t do very well so I had to change paths, but I was always intrigued by the training programs we were able to offer there. When I was in local government years ago, we also sent police from our town to Oriskany for training. Then you’ve come to the right place. It’s not a new place for most of you, but it’s a place that we believe is a perfect place to send ideas to you, but also to bring back ideas from all of you who are literally in the streets and on the ground, on the front line of our battle to protect the homeland.
We have a stellar leader and commissioner, Jackie Bray. I would like to thank her for her vision, her way of approaching the issues. And I was listening to her a little earlier and she formulates it exactly like me: are we ready to face the threat? And there’s no shame in saying we’re not, it’s just saying that there are forces out there that spend day and night trying to thwart our efforts, and our responsibility is to make sure we are ahead and share information. Thus, the role you play in countering local terrorist threats is critical. You are at the tip of the spear. You’re going to take what you learn here, bring it back to your communities, train the trainer and that’s so important.
As the commissioner told you, our number one responsibility is so clear, so simple: it is simply to keep New Yorkers safe. And as you have heard and you know, one of the biggest threats we face as a state is something that happens within our borders, domestic terrorism and especially the white supremacist extremism. And it’s not just us saying there are a few big cases. The number of cases has more than tripled since 2011 to almost 70, 73 cases last year alone. And the ADL report documents more than 600 extremist incidents in New York State last year. More than half of them organize the dissemination of white supremacist information.
Thus, New Yorkers were victims. They are our residents, they are our neighbors and that is why there is a sense of urgency with how we approach this. And yes, you all know it, I know it very well. I spend a lot of time there, but when we saw what happened on May 14, an individual who was radicalized, an 18-year-old young man who was radicalized by white supremacists and white nationalist beliefs, he opened fire at a Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, literally 11 minutes from where I live in town. It’s a neighborhood I know well. It is one that I frequent often and the terrorists still exist there. I was there two weekends ago and people are still afraid to go to a grocery store. It touched them deeply, not just the families of the victims who will take a lifetime to heal, but an entire community that was paralyzed at the thought that a fellow New Yorker could travel three hours, targeting his neighborhood in a single aim. And his stated goal was to execute black New Yorkers.
And therefore, we mourn the loss of 10 people. But he was not born with this hatred in his heart, this shooter. He has absorbed these toxic ideals and racist philosophies because they are so easily accessible on social media platforms. And in some cases, the dark web and cable news networks, and they’ve been integrated. These antisemitic and white supremacist ideas have been generalized by many reckless media personalities, irresponsible social media companies and the breeding ground for this hatred is mostly online. And you think about the timing, this individual – 18 years old, the last two years, he was probably isolated at home during the pandemic, not at school.
And you wonder how many other people were absorbing that content under the same circumstances when they didn’t have classroom supervision. So I believe there are probably more cases out there, more people following that one person’s example. As we also know, there are many cases of imitation. We studied the data.
This individual studied very closely what happened in Christchurch, the massacre in New Zealand. He absorbed it, he shared it. And he’s not the only one doing it. So what we also learned is that they use violence to achieve their goals. They choose violence in response to some political grievance they have or some way of being radicalized, but here’s what we need to do. We have to say, “Not in New York, not in New York and when it starts here, we will stamp it out.” And I issued an executive order directing every county and New York City to develop plans to identify and address homegrown terrorism threats. What we’re talking about over the next few days is helping you prepare for it. We don’t leave you alone. I’m familiar with unfunded mandates having spent many years in local government, and whenever we have an idea at the state level, we feel it’s important to share it and implement it at the state level. local. I want to make sure there’s money behind it, so we’ll talk about it. But we have so much to do to solve this problem.
So we’re also asking Homeland Security and the emergency services to help us create threat assessment management teams. And it won’t just be law enforcement, but also mental health professionals, school officials and other key stakeholders to help identify and assess the threat of targeted violence. So you’re going to walk away from here today with a real foundational understanding of what these teams can do. I hope you will bring this back to your communities. And as part of that, we’re protecting all of them, and our extreme risk protection orders and our different dynamics in a way, but not really. And we do so much more to support our efforts to make sure these are classified, that steps are taken to remove the weapons from someone who has already shown a propensity, or telegraph their intent to harm people in a school or workplace. So you will also get more information about it.
This is something that I have regular meetings with my team to make sure we can release this information very soon. So we have a lot of ideas, but we don’t have a monopoly on those ideas either. Many of the ideas that I think will be most helpful will come from all of you. So again, this is an opportunity for us to share data, to figure out how we can, as the commissioner said, connect the dots. That’s all everyone talked about after 9/11, why didn’t we see it coming? Why haven’t we connected the dots? And now that social media platforms are so widely available, they can be examined. They need to be looked at because the Buffalo shooter could have been stopped in his tracks because he basically demonstrated and said what he intended to do. So we are not in the business of solving crimes today, we are in the business of preventing crime. And that begins with our focused efforts on domestic terrorism.
And those of you who know my background, it’s also deeply personal to me. My husband was a federal prosecutor for over 30 years – US attorney, but before that he dealt with terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 and was able to eradicate many threats. Al-Qaeda’s first pursuit after 9/11 in the United States to demonstrate that there were also people not only on the white supremacist front, but in other areas where there are these threats, they infiltrate. They are underground today. But when they show up and manifest in a really exploitable way, we now have communities that are terrorized. And that is what we are fighting against. We are not fighting it alone, we are fighting it together. And for that, thank you for being part of this initiative to simply protect our homeland. I can’t think of a higher calling than making sure our neighbors and fellow citizens are safe.
So thank you all. And carry on.