Paris attacks: New York City police shows muscle to prevent threats

Members of NYPD's newly formed Critical Response Command unit standing outside their headquarters on Randall's Island in New York on Nov 16.
Members of NYPD's newly formed Critical Response Command unit standing outside their headquarters on Randall's Island in New York on Nov 16. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton deployed a new counterterrorism team on Monday (Nov 16), three days after the deadly attacks in Paris by militants he says will likely target his city next.

Bratton introduced 100 new members of the Police Department's Critical Response Command, who received special training. The Counterterrorism Units' goal is foiling attacks, particularly by Islamist militants.

"With this crucial additional capacity, we are the best-equipped city in America to deal with this proposed threat," Bratton told the graduates of the training at the unit's headquarters on Randall's Island.

By the time it is fully staffed, the NYPD's counterrorism force will number 500 officers, Bratton said.

In an interview with radio station AM 970 earlier in the day, Bratton said the city was on high alert after the carnage in Paris on Friday night. "We remain one of the most significant terrorism targets in the world today," the commissioner said.

The New York Police Department has foiled numerous plots against the city since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks by Al Qaeda operatives that brought down the World Trade Center and killed nearly 3,000 people.

Bratton said much has changed in the 14 years since then.

The emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which claimed responsibility for killing at least 129 people in the Paris attacks, has presented a new set of challenges for local police.

One of the top concerns is the group's use of sophisticated mobile applications for communications that police cannot intercept, Bratton said.

Police are also concerend about the ability of ISIS, which is known for using social media for outreach and recruitment, to inspire so-called "lone wolf" attackers. "The technology has leapfrogged," said Bratton, who said he spends about 40 per cent of his job strategising to avert attacks.