New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – The New York Police Department announced on Monday the deployment of a new counter-terrorism unit in New York City.
The unit, named the Critical Response Command, was launched with a first deployment of 100 NYPD officers, but an additional 400 policemen and eight K-9 dogs will eventually join. They will be posted daily at crowded and “sensitive” places throughout the city.
“You are now part of the front line of this city’s defense against terrorism. Starting today, you are going to make a difference on the streets of this city,” NY Mayor Bill De Blasio told the officers at the inauguration event for the unit, which took place Monday on Randall Island in Manhattan, where it will be headquartered.
The building that will house the unit formerly served the Street Crime Unit of the NYPD and was strategically chosen: it has immediate access to the Tri-borough Bridge Complex, which gives the unit immediate access to three of New York’s five boroughs, from which the other two can be accessed.
Mayor De Blasio explained that the idea of launching the CRC arose last year and became more relevant after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January. “We know that terror can target us anytime and anywhere.
We have to be ready for that, and the answer is to prepare even more intensely; to do even more to prevent terrorism; to be able to respond to terrorism if, God forbid, we encounter it here in this city,” he said.
He also added that over the past two years, the NYPD has invested in more efficient tools for its officers, such as new vests, technology to ensure they receive up-to-date information instantly, and advanced training.
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The new elite group will take these efforts to the next level and make New York City “the best equipped city in America to deal with any terrorist threat,” according to the mayor.
NYPD commissioner William Bratton explained that the 500 officers that the CRC will eventually include are all volunteers.
“They have been interviewed, selected; have received training on the very critical issues of counter-terrorism, protection of facilities and sites,” he said. “They will be equipped, as all of our personnel will be, with a smartphone technology that will allow for instant messaging to each and every one of them, updating on the locations they’re protecting as well as threats as they emerge.”
CRC officers will be expected to have both offensive and defensive roles, according to Bratton. “They have been trained and will receive continuously expanding training on dealing with active shooter scenarios, such as what we just recently witnessed in Paris.”
The police department also said it will be sending a team to Paris later this week to learn more about how the attacks were carried out.
Less than two hours after six terrorist attacks shook Paris, Mayor De Blasio expressed solidarity with residents of Paris as well as with his Parisian counterpart, Mayor Anne Hidalgo. He also emphasized the deep connection of the United States with France, its first ally. The Paris attacks, he said, underscore the urgency of the CRC’s mission.
“When I talked to people from Paris these last few days, one thing they say immediately is they know the people of New York City understand this pain and they understand this threat, because we went through something that very few places have experienced on 9/11,” he said on Monday. “We know our city is the chief terror target in this country.”
Already on Friday night, the NYPD mobilized its counter-terrorism resources to crowded areas and French government locations, including the French mission to the UN and the French consulate. The deployments were made in “an abundance of caution” to provide police presence and public reassurance.
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