Ulster County convened its first meeting of a multi-disciplinary team of law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials, faith leaders and other stakeholders to identify, assess and develop a plan to deal with threats of domestic terrorism
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Ulster County has formed a countywide Task Force for Preventing and Responding to Domestic Terrorism, made up of a team of law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials, faith leaders and other key stakeholders. The Ulster County Task Force for Preventing and Responding to Domestic Terrorism convened its first meeting on Friday, October 14th, of the multi-disciplinary team that will coordinate to identify, assess and be prepared to deal with the threats of domestic terrorism.
In August 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul issued an Executive Order in the aftermath of the May 2022 shooting in a Buffalo supermarket where 10 people were killed by an individual motivated by racist conspiracy theories discovered on internet message boards. EO 18 is designed to fight the troubling surge in domestic terrorism and violent extremism frequently inspired by, planned on and posted about on social media platforms and internet forums. Every county in New York must develop and maintain a plan to identify and confront threats of domestic terrorism that includes racially- or ethnically-motivated violent extremists and submit it to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Counterterrorism on or before December 31, 2022. These plans will be used to inform funding distributions in forthcoming grant opportunities.
“Domestic extremism is a growing threat in our nation, and we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our children from domestic terrorism, including racially- and ethnically-motivated extremism,” Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras said. “The Ulster County Task Force for Preventing and Responding to Domestic Terrorism will complete a comprehensive review of our ability to respond to threats and make recommendations to keep our residents safe.”
“Increased incidents of domestic terrorism in our nation and around the world means we need to be vigilant against any and all threats to public safety at the local level. Our local law enforcement agencies are prepared to work hand-in-hand with County leadership, community partners and faith leaders, such as the ones on this task force, to prevent the rise of domestic terrorism and to respond to any threats here at home,” Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa said. “I want to thank the Governor for spearheading this initiative and to assure Ulster County residents that these law enforcement professionals are working tirelessly for the public safety and well-being of our county.”
“As a county we must be prepared to meet any and all threats posed by domestic terrorism, including the very real threat posed by the ideology of white supremacy,” Ulster County Legislature Deputy Majority Leader, Chair, Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee and Task Force Member Abe Uchitelle said. “As white supremacist groups increase their efforts to recruit in our community, and in light of events like the January 6th, 2021, attack on the Capitol and the mass shooting in Buffalo, we must acknowledge this very real threat and prepare our county to face it head-on.”
“I am honored to be asked to serve on this task force because I understand that the issue of domestic terrorism is of the utmost importance,” Ulster County Legislator, Deputy Chair, Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee and Task Force Member Gina Hansut said. “Public safety is our number one priority, and we all need to work together to secure our communities, and beyond. I look forward to working with the individuals on this committee to facilitate strategies, programs, assessments and operations to keep our citizens safe.”
“Domestic terrorism is a serious threat nationwide. Unfortunately, we have seen more and more of these acts occurring, and we must be prepared to prevent them within our own community,” Director of Ulster County Department of Emergency Services and Task Force Member Everett Erichsen said. “It’s essential that, as community leaders in Ulster County, we come together to strategize and prevent these acts to keep our residents safe.”
“This is such an important issue, and it is crucial to include the communities that are being targeted in domestic terrorism attacks at the table for these types of discussions,” Human Rights Commissioner and Task Force Member Tyrone Wilson said. “I look forward to working with everybody on the task force to ensure BIPOC folks are heard and to ensure the safety of our community.”
“One need look no further than FBI statistics, which reveal Jews were targeted in 55% of all religious bias crimes last year, to see the pressing need for this task force,” Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Ulster County David Drimer said. “The Federation applauds Governor Hochul for rising to the occasion on this issue by mandating the creation of this committee. I am proud to serve on the task force on behalf of the Federation for the benefit of my constituents and all Ulster residents.”
The Ulster County Task Force for Preventing and Responding to Domestic Terrorism is composed of members of the Ulster County’s Executive’s Office, the Legislature, Departments of Emergency Services, Mental Health, Probation, Human Rights, Youth Bureau, County Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office, as well as members of the Ulster County Jewish Federation, NAACP, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center, 2nda Iglesia Church, Ulster County Muslim Association, Mid Hudson Japanese Community Association, People USA, and representatives from the New York State Police, area school districts and municipalities.
In July 2021, Ulster County officials, members of law enforcement and community leaders, held a joint press conference outside Kingston Library to announce the formation of the Anti-Violence Effort Response Team (AVERT) -- a first-of-its-kind, multi-agency unit focused on preventing violent crime across the County.