Days after superstorm Sandy battered the Northeast, the New York Police Department has been stretched to respond to one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region, Reuters reports. Uniformed officers manned bridge checkpoints, patrolled blacked out neighborhoods, directed traffic through hundreds of intersections, collected and delivered food donations, staffed 911 call centers, guarded terrorism targets, and patrolled gas station lines to quell disputes.
“How long can the NYPD go at full throttle like this is the big question,” said Gene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer now on the faculty of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “What they’re doing out there this week is extraordinary, and it’s a giant organization with incredible resources and skill sets, but the longer it goes, the more they get stretched.” At the storm’s peak on Monday, police got 20,000 calls per hour. Aware of the risks of crime in blacked-out neighborhoods, the NYPD has reinforced patrols with officers normally assigned to organized crime units. NYPD school security personnel are manning city shelters. Plainclothes detectives are donning uniforms to walk beats.