New York City Police Department

Counterterrorism Units

Mission Statement

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) is the primary local authority defending against a terrorist attack in New York City. Built upon the realization that the City could not rely solely on the federal government for its defense, the Counterterrorism Bureau was created. The Counterterrorism Bureau has been at the forefront of this new aspect of municipal policing: counterterrorism for local law enforcement. The mission of the Counterterrorism Bureau is to develop innovative, forward-looking policies and procedures to guard against the threat of international and domestic terrorism in New York City. One such policy puts uniformed counterterrorism executives in the rank of Inspector in positions to lead borough and citywide counterterrorism activities. Furthermore, the Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) has been enhanced with a dramatically larger complement of NYPD investigators and supervisors.




Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism

The NYPD has transformed the role of local police at all levels of the Department in an effort to protect the city's 8.2 million residents from terrorism. The Counterterrorism Bureau accomplishes this through its Borough Counterterrorism Coordinators, senior uniformed members in the rank of Inspector who are responsible for counterterrorism operations in New York City's eight patrol boroughs. These officers are led by Inspector John O’Connell, the Bureau's Citywide Coordinator and operational liaison with the Intelligence Division and Patrol Services and Transit Bureaus. Patrol officers draw on their understanding of the neighborhoods they patrol to report any potentially terrorism-related developments. They protect critical infrastructure and conduct high visibility deployments to disrupt terrorist planning and surveillance based on real-time intelligence.




Counterterrorism Deployments

The Department's strategic and continuous counterterrorism deployments include: Hercules and Transit Operational Response Canine Heavy Weapons (TORCH), teams of Emergency Service Unit officers with heavy weapons, canines, and side officers from the Intelligence Division or the Counterterrorism Bureau conduct directed patrol at City landmarks, critical infrastructure, and transportation hubs (transit stations/ferry terminals); Critical Response Vehicle (CRV), uniformed officers from each of the City's 76 precincts in marked vehicles meeting at strategic locations in a massive show of force for deployment around the city at bridges, transportation facilities, and other highly critical and sensitive locations; Transit Order Maintenance Sweeps (TOMS), teams of officers stopping, boarding and inspecting subway trains; and subway container inspection and explosive trace detection, in which officers examine bags and other containers carried by passengers entering the subway system to detect explosives. Vehicle checkpoints and radiological chokepoints are conducted at targeted roadways, bridges, and tunnels around the City. Joint deployments are conducted with regional law enforcement agencies doing Multi-Agency Surges (MAS) in transit facilities and Rolling Vigilance checkpoints for truck inspections and radiological detection on highways and at bridges and tunnels.




Counterterrorism Division

Much of the support for the Counterterrorism Bureau comes from the Counterterrorism Division, a subunit with wide-ranging capabilities and responsibilities commanded by Deputy Chief Salvatore DiPace. The Division is divided into multiple subunits:

  • The Technology and Construction Section designs and implements large scale counterterrorism projects, such as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and Operation Sentinel, bringing them from initial concepts to deployable operations;
  • The Training Section develops and delivers counterterrorism training to the patrol force and to other law enforcement agencies and private sector entities;
  • The Threat Reduction Infrastructure Protection Section (TRIPS) identify critical infrastructure sites throughout the City and develop protective strategies for these sites;
  • The Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives (CBRNE) Section researches and tests emerging technologies used to detect and combat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive weapons and develops plans and policies for their use;
  • The Maritime Team is responsible for researching and developing systems and programs to increase harbor security. The Maritime Team uses the Tactical Radiological Acquisition Characterization System for pro active deployments and mapping of background radiation in the Port of New York/New Jersey. This is the only waterborne deployment of TRACS equipment in the nation.
  • The NYPD SHIELD Unit manages the Department's public-private security partnership, providing training and information to the private sector and addressing concerns from the private sector. See the NYPD SHIELD website;
  • The Emergency Preparedness and Exercise Section is the Department's interface with the New York City Office of Emergency Management.



Joint Terrorist Task Force:

After the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD augmented the number of detectives and supervisors posted to New York City's Joint Terrorist Task Force (JTTF) from 17 to 125 and assigned them to the operational control of the Counterterrorism Bureau. NYPD detectives partner with FBI agents on terrorism investigations in the New York metro area and around the world. Indeed, the NY-JTTF has had the lead on numerous high profile international terrorism investigations, such as the 1993 WTC attack, the U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. The NYPD's partnership with the FBI through the JTTF not only provides the NYPD with access to national level classified intelligence, but it is also a means by which NYPD can disseminate its own intelligence and analysis at the federal level and to other law enforcement agencies.




Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI):

The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative (LMSI) is a networked surveillance project designed to detect threats and perform pre-operational terrorist surveillance south of Canal Street in Lower Manhattan. LMSI combines an increased police presence with technology to accomplish its mission. At the heart of this initiative is the public-private partnership fostered amongst the NYPD, private entities, and public agencies in Lower Manhattan to create an information sharing environment and better defend against potential threats to the nation's financial capital. The Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center (LMSCC), staffed 24/7 by NYPD officers, recently opened in November 2008 and serves as the central intake facility for all information gathered by the surveillance technology deployed south of Canal Street. Private and public partners are offered seats in the Coordination Center's Operations Center.

Terrorism Threat Analysis Group: The Terrorism Threat Analysis Group (TTAG) performs strategic intelligence analysis and disseminates this information, both open-source and classified, to the appropriate recipients in the Department, the private sector, the U.S. intelligence community, and other law enforcement agencies.




Conclusion

New York City has experienced first-hand the threat of international terrorism and remains number one on al-Qaeda's target list. The NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau is constantly fine tuning its strategies and operations to meet this threat head on.