by William K. Rashbaum, New York Times
As it moves ahead in a post-Sept. 11 world, the New York Police
Department is taking on many jobs that were once the sole province of
federal authorities, from posting officers abroad to creating a medical
staff to analyze the potential impact of weapons of mass destruction.
New York City detectives will be assigned overseas to work with the
police in several foreign cities, including ones in Canada and Israel.
Assignments in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are under discussion.
detective will be used as a liaison to Interpol, the international police
agency based in Lyon, France, and two detectives have been assigned to
F.B.I. headquarters in Washington to speed the flow of information. The
department also plans to assign a police official to New York City's
lobbying office in Washington to handle the department's dealings with other
Teams of investigators assigned to the Police Department's new
Counterterrorism Bureau have been trained to examine potential targets in
the city with an eye toward hardening them to potential attack. The teams
have evaluated high-profile sites including the Empire State Building,
Rockefeller Center and the United Nations, as well as the city's
"We want to emphasize, we're not looking to supplant anything that's
going on in the federal government this is to augment," Police
Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said recently in his office at Police
Headquarters in downtown Manhattan. "Why are we different? Well, we've been
targeted. We're sitting 10 blocks away from why we're different."
Such augmentation includes an ambitious program this month to survey
test those officers with language skills, from Pashtun and Urdu to Arabic,
Fujianese and other dialects, and train others. Detectives and analysts
the department's revamped Intelligence Division are already reading foreign
newspapers and monitoring Internet sites.
Detectives have also visited more than 1,000 businesses around the city
from heliports and chemical and explosive supply firms to Army-Navy
stores and those that sell Hasidic garb and scuba gear to build a
frontline defense to thwart those who might be preparing for an attack.
aggressive antiterrorism measures were largely the responsibility of federal
authorities before Sept. 11.
The uppermost ranks of the department have visited the Naval War College
in Rhode Island, and war-college trainers will soon be brought to the city
to work with other senior police commanders. The department is also setting
up several backup command centers in different parts of the city in case
cataclysmic event puts 1 Police Plaza out of operation, and has created
several backup senior command teams so that if the highest levels of the
department are killed, individuals will already have been tapped to step
into their jobs.
Commissioner Kelly, who detailed the new measures in recent interviews
and has touched on some of them in recent speeches, said they were part
broad effort to help prevent another terrorist attack and to better prepare
for a possible next strike.
Mr. Kelly regularly points out that New York has been a target of
terrorists four times in recent years twice successfully. His overall
effort has put the department on a war footing, meant not only to address
past weaknesses but also to make the agency the national model for
Mr. Kelly says that the department is working more closely with the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal agencies than it has in
the past, and will continue to do so, despite what some officials describe
as struggles over information sharing. "The federal government has a
national focus," Mr. Kelly said. "We have a much more parochial focus. We
feel we have to protect ourselves."
Because the new Counterterrorism Bureau and the Intelligence Division
undertaking tasks that have never before come under the purview of the
police, Mr. Kelly said, he has chosen their leaders with experience that
little or nothing to do with the more mundane aspects of municipal policing.
In January, Mr. Kelly appointed a retired Marine lieutenant general, Frank
Libutti, to head the department's counterterrorism efforts and David Cohen,
the former director of operations of the Central Intelligence Agency, where
he served for 35 years, to head the Intelligence Division.
Last month, Mr. Kelly named Dr. Kevin Cahill, the head of the Tropical
Disease Center at Lenox Hill Hospital, as the department's chief medical
adviser for counterterrorism. Dr. Cahill, who diagnosed two cases of anthrax
in the city last fall, recently formed a board to advise the department
how to protect officers and others responding to catastrophic incidents.
Under Mr. Libutti's supervision, the department is also undertaking a
comprehensive training program to teach patrol officers, who most likely
would be the first to respond to any attack, including one with chemical,
biological or nuclear weapons, what to look out for.
Other changes deal not necessarily with responsibilities that once
belonged solely to the federal government, but with issues specific to New
York City. The rescue effort at the World Trade Center, in which 343
firefighters were killed, was plagued by radio problems and lack of
communication between the Fire and Police Departments.
With an eye toward improving communication and relations with the Fire
Department, Mr. Kelly, with the support of Fire Commissioner Nicholas
Scoppetta, has set up liaison offices in the two departments' headquarters
and begun flights for fire chiefs in police helicopters so they can serve
airborne command centers.
"These are things the P.D. needed to do for some time and had not done,"
said Jerome M. Hauer, the director of the federal Office of Public Health
Preparedness at the Department of Health and Human Services, who led the
city's Office of Emergency Management under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
As head of the Counterterrorism Bureau, Mr. Libutti oversees the more
than 100 city police detectives who work terrorism cases with the F.B.I.
part of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and a roughly equal number of
investigators who work cases supported by the intelligence-gathering efforts
of Mr. Cohen's staff. Mr. Libutti said that the department quadrupled the
number of detectives assigned to the task force after January.
Mr. Cohen said the Intelligence Division and its 700 investigators now
devote 35 to 40 percent of their resources to counterterrorism, up from
about 2 percent before January.