Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) announced that H.R. 3857, the Public Transportation Security and Local Law Enforcement Support Act, was voted out of the Homeland Security Committee today. Congressman Turner introduced the bill in January of this year in an effort to ensure that specialized patrol teams such as NYPD's Transit Operational Response Canine Heavy Weapons (TORCH) team will have faster access to federal grant funding.
According to an analysis released last month by the Mineta Transportation Institute, there were 15 foiled terrorist plots aimed at public transportation between 1997 and 2010. Five of those plots targeted New York City.
"With the ever-increasing sophistication of terrorist organizations, we must ensure that law enforcement has the equipment and manpower to keep our commuters safe," said Turner. "This bill will streamline the process to ensure that specialized patrol teams, such as NYPD's TORCH team, have access to the necessary funding to keep them operational. This is a crucial step in helping the NYPD protect our citizens and visitors from all over the world. I will continue to advocate for New York's security through programs such as TORCH, and I look forward to voting for this bill on the House floor."
The bill, which Turner has been working on since his first month in office, has the support of NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
"The measure will provide much-needed continuity for the federal funding of crucial anti-terror measures, and in the process help keep New York City's transit system secure in the face of terrorist plots, several of which have surfaced since 9/11," Kelly said.
Congressman Turner's TORCH bill has also received support from Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (NY-03).
"Rep. Turner deserves enormous credit for his tireless and effective work on this issue, which is vital to the NYPD's efforts to secure the City's mass transit systems," said Chairman King. "I am pleased that the Committee has passed this important legislation that will improve the security of the millions of New Yorkers who utilize the subway and other mass transit."
H.R. 3857 will allow Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP) funds to be used to sustain specialized patrol teams that secure our nation's mass transit systems. Teams eligible to receive this funding include the NYPD TORCH team. This e
lite unit, which receives TSGP funds, is comprised of Emergency Service Unit officers with heavy weapons, canine units, and side officers from the NYPD Intelligence Division and Counterterrorism Bureau. These teams patrol subway, bus, and train stations; ferry terminals; City landmarks; and other critical infrastructure to keep Americans safe.
"I would like to thank Chairman King for his continued leadership on this issue," Turner said. "I look forward to working with my Colleagues in the House to get this bill to the floor for a vote."
Congressman Bob Turner represents New York's 9th Congressional district and serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and House Committee on Homeland Security.