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With 26/11 in mind, NYPD goes for a new training programme

February 17, 2009 20:54 IST
Wary of copycat attacks in New York after the Mumbai carnage, the largest police department of the United States has launched a counter-terrorism initiative, training officers in tactics for close quarters combat and rescuing hostages in hotels and other high-rise buildings.

As part of the initiative, the famed New York Police Department is training a new team of officers with semi-automatic rifles loaded with armour-piercing bullets.

Post 26/11, the department decided to train about 130 reinforcements from its Organised Crime Control Bureau with Ruger Mini-14s, in case terrorists in larger numbers than the one that struck India's financial capital struck in New York.

Police academy recruits will get a tutorial on how to secure assault weapons recovered in combat situations or, in a pinch, how to shoot them, the department said.

The NYPD's 400 Emergency Service Unit officers already can carry fully automatic Colt M4 rifles which are described as "the weapon of the 21st century soldier."

The NYPD also has begun video-taping the interiors of large hotels so that emergency service officers can learn their layouts and match the guiles of terrorists who, as in Mumbai, may have done pre-surveillance.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has already said there were similarities between Mumbai and New York -- country's financial capital, densely populated, multi-cultural metropolis, a hub for the entertainment industry, and also a port city.

"Terrorists are thinking creatively about new tactics," the police commissioner said recently. "So must we," he added weeks after the NYPD rushed investigators to India to see if there were any security lessons for New York.

Local authorities believe New York City could be a potential target for the terrorists. Security authorities in the US are struck by how the 10 gunmen calmly caused so much mayhem by relying on cell-phone communication and Chinese knockoff AK-47s.

The NYPD is also exploring ways to disrupt cell phone service in a pinpointed way against terrorists using them.

"When lives are at stake, law enforcement needs to find ways to disrupt cell phones and other communications in a pin-pointed way against terrorists using them," Kelly told members of the US Senate last month during a Congressional hearing on lessons learnt from Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Kelly said the NYPD has taken the Mumbai attack very seriously and already has had several round of exercises based on the lessons learnt from India's 9/11.

NYPD has also visited several major hotels to document the walkthroughs on video camera, filming entrances and exits, lobbies, unoccupied guest rooms, and banquet halls.

"We plan to use the videos as training tools. Further hundreds of private security cameras were now being monitored at a newly opened co-ordination centre in downtown Manhattan," Kelly added.

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