Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today visited New York City to announce that the Department has deployed 300 advanced imaging technology (AIT) units to airports throughout the country, tour security screening operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and meet with New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly regarding joint DHS-NYPD homeland security and counterterrorism operations.
“The disruption of the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square demonstrated the critical importance of individual citizens and law enforcement personnel in detecting and mitigating threats—underscoring that homeland security truly begins with hometown security,” said Secretary Napolitano. “From securing our airports to supporting local law enforcement, the Obama administration is committed to getting critical information and resources out of Washington, DC, and into the hands of the men and women serving on the front lines.”
While in New York City, Secretary Napolitano visited JFK to highlight the first two AIT units at the airport and announce that the Department has deployed 300 AIT units to more than 60 airports nationwide—keeping the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on track to deploy approximately 500 units by the end of 2010, 450 of which were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
“The deployment of 300 advanced imaging technology units is an important milestone in our commitment to keeping the traveling public safe,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole. “Imaging technology is a critical part of TSA’s layered counterterrorism strategy and ability to combat evolving threats to aviation security.”
AIT is designed to increase security by safely screening passengers for metallic and non-metallic threats—including weapons, explosives and other objects concealed under layers of clothing. TSA ensures passenger privacy through the anonymity of AIT images—a privacy filter is applied to blur images; all images examined by TSA at airports are permanently deleted immediately once viewed and are never stored, transmitted or printed; and the officer viewing the image is stationed in a remote location so as not to come into contact with passengers being screened. This technology is optional to all passengers. Those who opt out may request alternative screening to include a thorough pat down.
ARRA, signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 17, 2009, committed more than $3 billion for homeland security projects through DHS and the General Services Administration. Of the $1 billion allocated to TSA for aviation security projects, $734 million is dedicated to screening checked baggage and $266 million is allocated for checkpoint explosives detection technologies. President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request included funding for an additional 500 AIT units.
While in New York City, Secretary Napolitano also met with Commissioner Kelly to discuss the Department’s ongoing partnership with the NYPD and tour the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI). LMSI was launched by Commissioner Kelly in 2005 to help ensure public safety and includes additional uniformed officers on the streets as well as counterterrorism technologies deployed in public areas such as closed circuit televisions, license plate readers, and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear detectors.
During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano reiterated the Department’s continued support of the NYPD’s critical infrastructure protection efforts. DHS, in partnership with the NYPD and other stakeholders, has performed consolidated field assessments at 74 critical infrastructure sites concentrated in lower Manhattan. In total, New York City has received more than $2.1 billion in funding from DHS to support the city’s counterterrorism and homeland security-related initiatives.