Elite NYPD anti-terror squad deploys following Paris attacks
Critical Response Command officers receive special training and equipment
Three days after terror attacks in Paris, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton announced that the NYPD would be deploying the first 100 officers of a new elite counterterrorism squad, the Critical Response Command (CRC).
At a press conference on Randall’s Island on Monday, de Blasio told the inaugural graduates that they were part of the front line in the city’s defense against terror.
“You have gotten some of the very best training available anywhere on this earth to prepare you for this mission, and now it is time to put that training into action in this city,” de Blasio said.
The CRC will eventually grow to 560 members, Commissioner Bratton said. On a daily basis, roughly 100 members will be on duty. Most of the team is expected to be in place for New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
Squad members, who are volunteers, will be issued special smartphone devices, receive training on M4 semiautomatic weapons and in radiological detection, and be outfitted with heavy vests. The department will be acquiring new explorer-type vehicles equipped with gun boxes, Bratton said.
The squad will take both a defensive and offensive role, he said.
“They have been trained and will receive continuous expanding training on dealing with active shooter scenarios such as we just recently witnessed in Paris, France,” Bratton said. “These officers will be the officers that will be equipped to go towards the danger, the offense; to take on those that might be seeking to perpetuate armed attacks in the city.”
The new unit will coordinate with the city’s existing counter terror resources, which includes the NYC Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Operation, the 600-officer Emergency Service Unit (ESU) and the 800-member Strategic Response Group (SRG). The city also collaborates closely with the FBI and conducts drills with the FDNY.
At any given time, 20 ESU trucks are moving around the city “with their highly trained officers, always highly equipped with every piece of equipment conceivable to go toward the attack, to protect against the attack,” Bratton said.
SRG officers, like the CRC, “will be in the explorer vehicles, also equipped when necessary during these types of threats with long guns,” he said.
In addition to these special units, the city is in the process of training the whole patrol force to deal with active shooters, he said.
“We have put 3,000 of our officers through that training already and we are training additional hundreds each week, so that by June of next year, we will put the whole patrol force through that training to strengthen our ability to, if necessary, go on the offense – but to always strengthen the very significant abilities we have to defend this city.”
The city began planning the unit over a year ago – timing that Bratton called very fortunate “as the threat picture has changed so dramatically.”
The new entity will be headquartered on Randall’s Island, in the former home of the Street Crime Unit. The facility is being remodeled.
Bratton said the site was chosen because it has immediate access to the Triborough Bridge complex and a connection to three boroughs. It also is immediately adjacent to a Harbor Unit facility, allowing rapid water deployment.
Chief James Waters, commanding officer of the city’s Counterterrorism Bureau, has been instrumental in creating the new command. On Monday, he praised the City Council for funding additional police officers and the new unit.
The funds provided for 1,300 additional officers and 400 civilians, freeing 400 additional officers.
The mayor said that he had “started this discussion last year” with Police Commissioner Bratton, “and then intensified it after I visited Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.”
The new squad is the result of the city’s resolve to take counterterrorism efforts to the next level, de Blasio said.
De Blasio told the new CRC members, “And you are here not a moment too soon, as we reflect with real sorrow on what our brothers and sisters in Paris went through just a few days ago.”
Other counter-terrorism plans are taking place at the local level. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told people attending a candlelight vigil on Sunday night that he would be meeting with the NYPD to discuss staff safety training at major venues in Brooklyn, including Barclays Center, MCU Field and catering halls.
“While we want you to go about your business as usual, government officials are going to do what we have to do to make sure this borough remains safe,” Adams, a former NYPD officer, said.
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