300 new police designated for counter-terrorism duty were not added to respond to any specific terror threat, Mayor Bill de Blasio said today.
“There remains no specific credible threat but we are constantly vigilant–we are obviously concerned about lone wolf activity,” Mr. de Blasio said in response to an Observer question at an unrelated press conference in Queens. “This was a decision that we talked about for quite a while with the commissioner, that we needed a dedicated group … with our critical response vehicles that will be specifically trained for anti-terror duty, that will only do anti-terror duty.”
Mr. de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced an agreement last night on a $78.5 billion budget that included $170 million for 1,300 new police officers. Three hundred officers will be designated only for counter-terror duty, a priority for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the mayor said.
Mr. de Blasio initially resisted Ms. Mark-Viverito’s, and later Mr. Bratton’s, call for new police. He argued that city resources could be spent better in other areas like education and prison reform, but said last night and again today that the Council’s pleas won him over.
Since the September 11 attacks, the NYPD has become increasingly focused on counter-terrorism. The rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East has been a cause for concern for New York elected officials who fear the emboldened terrorist group will plot attacks on New York, but Mr. de Blasio did not mention them by name today.
“It’s something we decided made sense in today’s environment rather than borrowing officers from precincts, catch as catch can—we wanted a dedicated force,” he continued. “So this is something we’ve been talking about for a while. It made a lot of sense to me, it made a lot of sense to the Council and obviously the commissioner and his team will be laying out more details in the coming days.”