April 26, 2008

Machine Gun-Toting Officers To Patrol NYC Subway

M4 Carbine Rifles, MP5 Submachine Guns & Bomb Sniffing Dogs Part Of New "Torch Team" Anti-Terror Efforts

NEW YORK (CBS) ― The NYPD is pulling out all the stops to beef up safety of the subways. On Thursday it launched a new anti-terror effort called "Operation Torch," but the cost of the program is raising some eyebrows.
The NYPD's new firepower consists of cops with Mp5 submachine guns, rifles, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Starting Thursday, five or six teams a day will patrol the major transit hubs in the city in the new program, all thanks to a 50 percent increase in a Homeland Security grant.
"Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station … the locations you would expect, but not only those locations. The assignments will vary and will be following no discernible pattern," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Many straphangers were thrilled to see the city going all the way to protect its citizens.
"It's a very good idea," Patricia Knight Williams said. "It's like a deterrent. It's going to make me feel safer, much safer, yes it will. It's a good idea."
The city's massive subway system, With 5 million riders a day, has long been considered a potential terror target ever since Sept. 11, 2001.
Similarly equipped NYPD units known as "Hercules" teams have been patrolling the ground on Wall Street, the Empire State Building and other city landmarks.
Everyone seems to like the idea of an added police presence, particularly to fight terrorism on subway platforms, but then when you mention the price tag -- $151 million – then people aren't so sure.
"I think it's a waste of money," Michael Rivers said. "If someone wants to put a bomb in the subway how do you stop it?"
"It's a hard time for a lot of people. That's a lot of money to spend," Ellen Payne added.
"Everybody has their opinion," Kelly said. "We think this is a reasonable expenditure of funds. We're doing everything that we think is appropriate to prevent another attack."
Of the $151 million in the federal grant, $30 million will be used for this underground anti-terrorist program for the next two years.
In case you're thinking you've seen this kind of police patrol on the subways, you're right. Units like the Hercules teams have been sent underground during times of heightened security.

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