The team of police officers crisscrosses down a New York City block, bracing for a potential firefight with heavily armed suspects who have taken hostages inside a building.
“We know there are hostages in there,” Lieutenant Kenneth Beatty warns while supervising the operation. “The number’s unknown.”
It’s not real, but it’s not a standard training session, either.
Local authorities believe New York City could be a potential target of militants trained and supplied as well as those who staged coordinated attacks in Mumbai last November, and New York Police Department leaders are determined not to be outgunned.
“Terrorists are thinking creatively about new tactics,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said last week at a City Council public safety hearing. “So must we.”
The largest US police department launched a counterterrorism initiative this month to train a new team of officers with semiautomatic rifles loaded with armor-piercing bullets.
The officers also are being trained in tactics for close quarters combat and rescuing hostages in hotels and other high-rise buildings.
After the three-day assault in Mumbai on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in November left 164 people dead, the NYPD dispatched investigators to India to see if there were any security lessons for New York. They were struck by how the 10 shooters calmly caused so much mayhem by relying on cellphone communication and Chinese knockoff AK-47s. The local police and security officers, they said, were clearly overwhelmed.
“Their weapons were not sufficiently powerful and they were not trained for that type of conflict,” Kelly said. “It took more than 12 hours for properly armed Indian commandos to arrive.”
The NYPD’s 400 Emergency Service Unit officers already can carry fully automatic Colt M4 rifles — what the manufacturer bills as “the weapon of the 21st century soldier.”
But post-Mumbai, the department decided to train about 130 reinforcements from its Organized Crime Control Bureau with Ruger Mini-14s in case a militant force even larger than the one that struck India’s financial capital invaded here. Police academy recruits will get a tutorial on how to secure assault weapons recovered in combat situations or, in a pinch, how to shoot them.
The NYPD also has begun videotaping the interiors of large hotels so emergency service officers can learn their layouts and match wits with terrorists who, as in Mumbai, may have done surveillance.
In addition, Kelly told the city council that the police want to explore ways to disrupt cell phone service “in a pinpointed way against terrorists who are using them.”
The training session last week took place at the police department’s firearms training facility on a desolate, wind-swept peninsula in the borough of the Bronx.
The street the officers crisscrossed is the NYPD version of a movie studio back lot, with mock street signs, cinderblock storefronts, even a yellow cab and city bus. The guns can’t fire. The hostages are played by other officers.
Instructors drilled officers on how to rescue hostages while giving each other cover.
They warned that terrorists could try to blend in with victims. Any lapse in concentration could prove deadly.
“You guys have to communicate!” one instructor yelled as the officers secured a darkened stairwell as an escape route.
At a nearby firing range, another set of officers used their assault weapons to blast away at targets. They would shoot 600 rounds over two days to complete the training.
Some of the guns were purposely rigged to suddenly fire blanks — a signal to the officers to practice dropping a jammed weapon and immediately draw their semiautomatic pistols and keep shooting.
The exercise was another sign of a new era in policing, said Assistant Chief George Anderson, commanding officer of the police academy.
“We’ve always been prepared to deal with criminals, not terrorists,” Anderson said. “Now we have to go to the next level.”
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures