NEW YORK—Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was joined by NYPD members and Deputy Commissioner Richard Daddario on Sunday at Times Square to announce an $18.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, as well as long-term funding for New York City’s Securing the Cities initiative. The money will be used to prevent “dirty bombs,” or bombs containing radioactive material, from passing into New York City.
“As we’ve repeatedly seen, New York City is the number one target for terrorists around the world who want to harm Americans,” Gillibrand said. “The threat of a dirty bomb is one of the most serious dangers that our law enforcement and security operations face, and this funding will provide critical resources we need to guard against the possibility of an attack.”
“We know how upsetting and concerning it was to have a bomb attempt here. Imagine the worry, the concern, and the fear created if it was a dirty bomb, right here, spreading radioactive material all across this area,” said the senator, referencing the recent bomb attempt in Times Square.
“We must remain vigilant and stand ready to protect our city from the threat of this terrorism, and to prevent the massive damage, the loss of life, and the absolute ability to shut down commerce if a dirty bomb ever got detonated here in Times Square,” Gillibrand added.
About 600,000 vehicles enter the city every day, according to the senator. The grant will go toward installing monitors able to detect and identify radioactive material at every bridge, tunnel, and entrance into the city.
The city has already been mapped for radiation, so as to avoid any false positives that may be coming from hospital cancer centers or other authorized facilities.
The Securing the Cities initiative is an ongoing prevention effort that will eventually serve as a model for other U.S. cities. Three full-scale exercises intercepting radioactive material from entering the city have already been conducted under this initiative. The program has also facilitated development of radiation detection systems at entry points to the city and training for officers in proper use of over 4,000 units of radiation detection equipment.
“At one time, such a threat [a dirty bomb] was unthinkable. Now we know it is all for real, and we must do all we can to prevent it,” said Daddario. “Securing the Cities has enabled us to deepen our defenses by placing radiation detectors and equipment in the hands of police officers and departments in this region.”
“We’ve worked very closely with police departments and our regional partners in New York state, Connecticut, and New Jersey,” Daddario added. “We’ve provided them with thousands of pieces of equipment and we have trained them. Together we are building a system that is broadly recognized as necessary for our nation’s security.”
Securing the Cities will receive $20 million in the next fiscal year and then a minimum of $10 million every year thereafter.
This funding for expansion of the Securing the Cities initiative comes from bipartisan legislation of Sen. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).