Blog posts sensitive NYPD documents found in trash

May 13, 2011 8:13:46 PM PDT
A blogger has posted a set of sensitive New York Police Department documents he says he found in a trash can outside a police station near Times Square.

The documents, titled "Cobra Task Force Deployments" and stamped "law enforcement sensitive," detail the deployment of 20 police officers.

COBRA, which stands for chemical ordinance, biological and radiological awareness, is a federally funded program that uses classroom instruction and drills to teach patrol officers how to recognize and respond to terrorist threats. There was a session at the Manhattan South Task Force station house on Wednesday.

New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said publication of the documents didn't cause a security breach.

"The assignment sheet was tossed out the day after the assignments were completed," he said. "Granted, we would have preferred if it was disposed of more discreetly, but its discovery by a Dumpster diver posed no threat to the public or anyone else."

The eight pages included a map of Times Square and instructions on vehicle sweeps, and they detailed what officers should look for when stopping vehicles, including missing identification numbers, strange odors and fresh body work.

Blogger Bucky Turco says he found the forms folded neatly in half at the bottom of an otherwise empty green garbage can directly outside the station on Thursday.

"And so I reached in and grabbed it," he said. "I put it in my backpack and didn't really look at it until I got home."

He said he posted the documents to his site because they didn't seem sensitive enough to cause any harm, but he said he hoped his actions would prevent similar documents from getting out in the future.

"It just seemed strange that here we are, three blocks from what is considered still the No. 1 target in New York City," he said. "What really bugs me is that we spend all this money on license plate readers and in the end, if some guy leaves a document out ... what good is it anyway?"

Times Square has been a recent terror target. Last May, an SUV laden with gasoline and propane was parked outside a string of restaurants and a Broadway theater showing "The Lion King" but failed to explode. Pakistani-born U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad, a former budget analyst from Bridgeport, Conn., pleaded guilty in the case.

Turco's website, which he describes as an "alt-weekly done every day," focuses mainly on arts and culture.

Turco posted them Friday on his website

The NYPD released the following response:

The document involved the deployment of 20 highly visible uniformed officers whose assignments were obvious to anyone with eyes in their head. The assignment sheet was tossed out the day after the assignments were completed. Granted, we would have preferred it was disposed of more discreetly, but its discovery by a dumpster-diver posed no threat to the public or anyone else.