New York city has launched a new counterterrorism unit, the Critical Response Command. “We can say more certainly than ever before that no city in America is better prepared to defend against terrorism,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Paris attacks have underscored the extent to which de Blasio relies on the NYPD, an unlikely position for a liberal Democrat elected with promises to stop police abuses. He has worked to shed a perception that he is antipolice. The Critical Response Command was made possible by the nearly 1,300 more police officers hired by the mayor, who initially opposed adding to the force but changed his mind after being urged to do so by Police Commissioner William Bratton and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The new Critical Response Command team replaces a unit formed after the Sept. 11 attacks that had placed two officers from each precinct at critical locations around the city, in addition to the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit. The new team will be responsible for protecting critical locations across the city, and will be equipped with long range weapons, heavy-duty vests and smartphone technology. The team, which is expected to grow to about 560, will be based out of the NYPD's old Street Crime Unit building on Randall's Island, picked for its access to the Robert F. Kennedy bridge that connects Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.