An event of global significance, 150 delegations with the support of 73 federal and local agencies converged on New York City for the 78th United Nations General Assembly, and TSA was in the thick of the action.
TSA’s Specialized Programs and Deployment Branch worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) to screen visitors and their property to make sure no one carried prohibited items into areas around the U.N. event.
Nearly three dozen TSA officers from 24 airports across the country were deployed, traveling to the Big Apple to offer their screening support for the vital security mission. Strategically positioned throughout the event, their unwavering commitment to protect the public was evident in their actions, ensuring safety and order.
Brian Bender was among the deployed officers and shared a touching encounter with a young visitor from Pakistan who expressed her gratitude for the security he and his team provided.
“That’s what we do,” Bender responded.
The agency’s Law Enforcement/Federal Air Marshal Service (LE/FAMS) had a pivotal role in maximizing law enforcement operations on air, land and water.
“As in years past, the Federal Air Marshal Service field offices in New York and Newark provided additional uniformed law enforcement personnel throughout the New York City metropolitan area,” said TSA Special Events Coordinator Mariana Reed.
“Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) conducted in-flight security operations aboard countless flights transiting through airports in the New York City metropolitan area in support of the United Nations General Assembly,” added Tom Sellers, Supervisory Air Marshal in Charge of the TSA LE/FAMS Systems Operations Control Section.
FAMs were also assigned to protect heads of state and delegates and staffed the USSS Command Center.
Five TSA Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response teams deployed from the New York and Newark field offices to conduct highly visible law enforcement operations in support of Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Port Authority Police Department and the New York Police Department. They provided increased security at critical transportation venues connected with the event, including mass transit stations, New York City ferries, waterways and heliports in addition to the area’s three large airports – LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty International.
Supervisory Federal Air Marshals (SFAMs) and FAMs served as liaisons and representatives in the New York Police Department Joint Operations Center and USSS Multi-Agency Coordination Center Air Security Operations Center.
“FAMs worked cohesively with USSS, who expressed gratitude for our assistance,” said Federal Air Marshal Hernandez, who oversaw day-to-day operations.
Team Lead Program Analyst Trent Koerner, one of the key figures who spearheaded TSA’s 24/7 security operations, has extensive experience supporting the U.N. General Assembly and other national special security events and said a significant amount of detailed planning goes into preparing for an event like this.
“Our work requires flexibility and coordination, every step taken in sync,” Koerner emphasized.
TSA has worked this event since 2015 and created a close partnership with the Secret Service.
“The U.S. Secret Service were great partners throughout the event,” said Lead TSA Officer Erica Grant, who was among the officers who started each day’s work before dawn and finished long after dusk.
From strategy to deployment to field operations, each TSA employee deployed to provide operational support for the U.N. General Assembly showcased dedication and unity. It’s a strong testament to the collective spirit of those who worked tirelessly, often without public recognition, to make such national and global security events a big success.
By Sabrena Semien, TSA Security Operations, and Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs