In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the U.S., roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city's subway system daily, beginning next month, reports the New York Times. Under a plan called Operation Torch, the officers will board trains and patrol platforms, focusing on sites like Pennsylvania Station, Herald Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Manhattan, and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.
Financing for the program will be funneled to the Police Department and will come from a pool of up to $30 million taken from new federal transit grants to the state. Each team in the operation will comprise a bomb-sniffing dog and six officers: a dog handler and a sergeant and four officers from the Emergency Service Unit who will be outfitted in heavy, bullet-resistant vests and Kevlar helmets and will carry automatic weapons, either an M-4 rifle or an MP5 submachine gun.The officers will work in shifts of 12 hours to provide as much coverage of the subway system as possible. Officers with high-powered rifles have patrolled sensitive sites above ground, like the Empire State Building, and have guarded subway entrances after attacks in other cities, but have never made daily patrols.