Terrorism drill focuses on local waters

August 4, 2009 3:04:32 PM PDT
Law enforcers on boats heldi a terrorism drill south of the Verrazano Bridge Tuesday.Surrounded by the NYPD and New Jersey State Police, a small pleasure craft was believed to contain a dangerous threat. Several different detectors picked up on a radiological threat that could be a nuclear device or dirty bomb.

The threat, fortunately, was not real. It was part of a precise exercise between various police agencies and the Coast Guard, aimed at thwarting a potentially deadly attack before it reaches New York Harbor.

"I want to stress that every day, the NYPD monitors for radiation on our waterways," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

They use specialized equipment, like a high-speed counter terrorism detection boat with sensitive radiological detecting equipment built right into the hull, along with 17 other boats.

They set up three different checkpoints on the water, much like a DWI checkpoint on the highway.

The pleasure boat then passed through the checkpoints, where radiological readings were taken.

"Once they get a reading, they signal to the harbor patrol boat," said James Waters, chief of the Counterterrorism Bureau. "They would actually pull the boat over, board the boat and identify what that source is."

The goal is to respond to intelligence of a threatening nature.

"We could do it very effectively, very quickly," Waters said. "And, if we had specific information...we could then identify a boat or a craft and interdict it."


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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