The recommendations outlined by a joint state and federal multi-agency team charged with reviewing the response to mistaken reports of active shooters in several terminals at John F. Kennedy Airport on August 14, 2016, have been accepted by New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and U.S. Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, after erroneous reports resulted in panic and the self-evacuation of thousands of travelers and employees.
“The events at JFK were a wake-up call to rethink and reevaluate our security procedures to reflect the new, changing reality of 21st century threats and to better ensure the safety of all New Yorkers,” Gov. Cuomo said. “These recommendations will serve as a national model to better train our airport workers, establish new protocols to respond to emergencies, and enhance coordination and communication among all stakeholders. I thank Sec. Johnson for his support, as we move forward to put into place these new strategies to better protect New York’s airports and set an example for the rest of the world to follow.”
At the Governor’s direction, the State will work with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to implement these recommendations that will enhance security, ensure a more coordinated response in emergency situations, and better prepare airport workers to protect and assist the traveling public. Gov. Cuomo ordered the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity to develop a training program to enhance airport security and responses during critical incidents.
The new mandatory training will provide airport workers with the skills necessary to assist passengers during emergencies and with skills for increased awareness and the identification of and reporting of suspicious activities related to terrorist activities. The Port Authority will require this training for all employees working at JFK airport and ensure that all airport workers receive the new curriculum. The TSA will be strengthening their training regime by providing the program to TSA agents working at JFK airport. Personnel from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will begin delivering the training in December.
U.S. Sec. of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said, “Implementing these recommendations will enhance safety measures to reflect the current threat environment and will provide necessary training to mitigate panic in the event of an emergency. The TSA is committed to providing additional training for TSA employees to ensure full coordination with airport authorities and local law enforcement to keep New Yorkers and travelers safe.”
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Pat Foye said, “To present a unified front against security threats, we must have organized training, coordination and communication. The implementation of these recommendations will improve airport safety efforts for all. The Port Authority is committed to providing coordinated training and drills recognizing the needs and strengths of all agencies, and to make internal and external communications seamless. Together, we will make these critical improvements to ensure that our security measures are of the highest caliber.”
Governor’s Review Team Recommendations
At the Governor’s direction, the following recommendations will be implemented in conjunction with the Port Authority. A copy of the letter with the full set of recommendations is available here.
Establish a Unified Operations Command Protocol – Initiate a standard joint operating protocol for all security forces on the premises. This protocol will include representatives from each law enforcement agency, airport operations, and private security contractors to ensure that the information flows freely between all security stakeholders and enable law enforcement to maintain situational awareness throughout the airport at all times.
Coordinate Training with Security Stakeholders – Require joint training exercise between security agencies, including the Port Authority, the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, security contractors, and external federal, state, and local first responders, including the NYPD and the New York City Fire Department. This will include simulation exercises of real-life scenarios conducted on-site to ensure preparedness. An active shooter exercise involving all of these agencies is scheduled to take place at JFK airport on December 10, 2016.
Security and Emergency Preparedness Training for All Airport Workers –Require that all Airport employees, security and non-security personnel, including airline workers and vendors, are trained not only on active violence response, but also emergency recognition, evacuation procedures, crowd management, and coordinated communications with law enforcement and first responders.
Develop a Plan for Mass Self-Evacuation of JFK – Create a multi-lingual signage campaign in the airport, develop a media and notification system and formalize a recovery plan.