NYPD Increases Security in Response to Brussels Attack

The NYPD and other law enforcement agencies increased security across New York City in response to terrorist attacks in Brussels early Tuesday morning, though authorities said there were no known credible threats to the nation's largest city. 

Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and other top cops and FBI agents outlined stepped up measures throughout the five boroughs following the attacks in the Belgian capital that left 31 dead and more than 200 others hurt.

Both the FBI and NYPD said that there were no known credible threats against the city, but people should expect to see more cops and members of the National Guard at transit hubs and near landmarks.

"We are going to respond to their efforts to create chaos by showing them order, by showing our society functioning and our city functioning," de Blasio said. "The NYPD is ensuring that the everybody can go about their business safely."

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department has assigned nearly 13,000 additional cops to the subway system and city landmarks, noting that he saw an uptick in police presence -- including National Guardsmen and members of an elite NYPD tactical squad -- as he took the subway to work at 1 Police Plaza from Grand Central Terminal Tuesday morning. 

"That degree of coverage will continue for the foreseeable future until we get a better idea of what transpired over (in Brussels)," Bratton said.

The Port Authority Police Department stepped up security at Newark-Liberty, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. The department also employed high visibility anti-terrorist patrols throughout the PATH system and at the World Trade Center.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that state agencies were also be taking extra precautions in the nation's biggest city. The National Guard provided additional security at JFK, while New York State Police assigned officers to Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. The MTA will coordinate with the state police to elevate its presence at other busy train stations.

Security has also been stepped up at bridges, tunnels and mass transit across the state, Cuomo said. 

At Newark International Airport, arriving international passengers saw the extra security right away.

"They were standing by the aircraft door, with guns, which is quite unusual," said Hope Oduah of Yonkers. 

"It makes me feel better to see the police presence," Matio Costagliola, a former National Guardsman said in Times Square, where heavily armed Hercules teams were stationed. "I don't know if you can protect against every threat but it seems like if something were to happen, the right people are here to suppress it pretty quickly." 

A couple in town from Brussels also said that took comfort in the police here. They said their loved ones in Brussels were OK but they were shaken as they realized how close it hit. 

"One of the bombs went off near American baggage, I was just there a few days ago," said Pia Homm. 

Some New Yorkers said while they appreciated the security at the high-profile stations, there wasn't enough in other places. After all, taking the train remains an open system: there are no metal detectors at turnstiles, and there's not enough manpower to have armed officers at every station or on every train. 

"I know what increased police presence looks like, and I got on at Wall Street, took [the subway] to 59th Street and then the Upper East Side and I've seen nothing," said Susan O'Connor of Sea Bright.

"I got an at 68th Street, business as usual," said Brett Diamond of Battery Park City.

MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast acknowledged there was a risk on mass transit, but said the agency is constantly on alert. 

"Certainly the issue of on-board incidents, Barcelona was that, part of our psyche and approach to terrorism," said Prendergast. 

"To say we've been on heightened alert is an understatement," he said. 

Retired counterterrorism chief Michael Valenti said commuters are the extra eyes and ears that police need.

"Is it a bag or suitcase? If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right," Valenti said. 

The measures come hours after two explosions rocked the check-in zone at the Brussels Airport, while a third was reported at the Maalback metro station. At least least 31 people were killed and 270 hurt, including several Americans. At least 11 people were killed in the blasts at the airport, NBC News reported. 

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, a Delta Airlines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Brussels was diverted to Amsterdam, authorities said.

Delta flight 0042 took off from New York at about 8:15 p.m. Monday and was set to land at Brussels Tuesday morning. It was diverted to Amsterdam, according to the airline.

The attacks came just days after the main suspect in the November Paris terrorist attacks was arrested in Brussels. After his arrest, Salah Abdeslam told authorities he had created a new network and was planning new attacks.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security said they are in touch with their European counterparts but so far no formal recommendations have been made to operators of U.S. airports or mass transit, NBC News reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us