Highly impressed by the steps taken by New York Police Department (NYPD) to secure the Big Apple from any major terrorist attack, Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, on Friday said that mega Indian cities like Mumbai and New Delhi could implement some of their practices.
Mr. Chidambaram, who was given an extensive briefing by the New York Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, on the day of his arrival in the US, said he was “impressed” by the steps being taken by NYPD to secure a mega city like that of New York.
“Some of those practices can be applied in India’s mega cities like Delhi, Mumbai etc,” Mr. Chidambaram said in response to a question at a press briefing with the Indian media in Washington.
“NYPD was in my list (of meetings) because I was keen to know how it was securing a mega city. There is a new book called “Securing the City” and that describes what Commissioner Kelly has done in NYPD. I was very keen to see how NYPD worked,” Mr. Chidambaram said.
In the aftermath of the Mumbai terrorist attack, NYPD has taken several measures to secure the city from 26-11-type attack. It not only sent a team to Mumbai soon after the terrorist attacks, but has also conducted several mock drills to prevent any major casualties if such an attack ever occurs in the city.
“We established the nation’s first municipal counter terrorism bureau, and we restructured our Intelligence Division. We recruited the best that the federal government had to offer to head those two operations. We created a new civilian intelligence program to support our field commanders with timely information and analysis,” Mr. Kelly told a Congressional committee early this year, which held a hearing on Mumbai terrorist attack.
“We also conducted two exercises, one a tactical drill for Emergency Service Unit officers, the other a tabletop exercise for commanders. Both scenarios mirrored the attacks in Mumbai,” he said.
“Based on our analysis of what took place in Mumbai, we’ve been training additional officers in the use of heavy weapons and close quarters battle tactics. In the event of a sustained attack, such as we saw in India, these officers will be able to support and relieve the more than 400 members of our Emergency Service Unit who already have these skills,” Mr. Kelly said.
NYPD has also provided basic heavy weapons instruction for our most recent class of over 1,000 police recruits, as in Mumbai, the local police were simply outgunned by the terrorists. “We don’t want that to happen in New York,” he said.
NYPD has also tied coordinated with the service providers to see if a means can be developed to pinpoint disruption of cell or satellite phones used by terrorists during an attack, without the wholesale disruption of communications in the immediate vicinity.
“We also saw that in Mumbai, the local authorities had insufficient knowledge of the layouts of the targets. In light of this observation, we’ve assigned our Emergency Service Unit supervisors to tour major hotels and other landmarks. Out of each visit they develop a briefing book with a description of the location and detailed diagrams, as well a video that can be used for training purposes,” Mr. Kelly said.
Through another partnership, Operation Nexus, NYPD detectives have made thousands of visits to the kind of companies terrorists might seek to exploit, truck rental businesses, scuba diving schools, or hotels.
“We let them know what to look for and what to do if they observe suspicious behaviour. As part of this initiative, we’ve assigned a senior officer to work exclusively with hotels,” he said.