During a visit to New York City on Oct. 22, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said both the advanced imaging technology (AIT) at airports and the network of video surveillance in lower Manhattan are needed to detect and mitigate terrorism.
Napolitano toured the security screening operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) where the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed the first two AIT units out of 300 deployed at 60 airports throughout the country. She said, “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.”
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.
TSA Administrator John Pistole said, “Imaging technology is a critical part of TSA’s layered counterterrorism strategy and ability to combat evolving threats to aviation security. The deployment of 300 advanced imaging technology units is an important milestone in our commitment to keeping the traveling public safe.” TSA plans to deploy an additional 200 AIT units by the end of 2010.
While in New York, Napolitano met with New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Raymond Kelly regarding joint Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-NYPD homeland security and counterterrorism operations and tour the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI). The LMSI was launched by 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.
Napolitano praised the effort saying, “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.”