By Eric Adams
On October 6th, at the very heart of rush hour and just 2 hours away from a mayoral debate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced a terrorism alert. Citing the most specific threat against the city since September 11, 2001, the mayor chose this most unusual time to send an entire city into widescale panic. Mayor Bloomberg indicated that the announcement timing was due to either his concern about the information being released by an overzealous press or because he was concerned about jeopardizing the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing investigation into the validity of the threat. Along with a strong denial of political manipulation, the mayor and the police commissioner stated that this was a public safety decision.
What the Mayor and the Police Commissioner won’t answer is if they deemed the threat credible then why a press conference instead of a mass mobilization of the NYPD. The fact is that there was no mass mobilization of the NYPD until Friday, October 7th. If, as both Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly indicated, they had the information on the possible threat days before, why was there not a strategic plan in place before the terror announcement? Mass mobilization of the NYPD and its anti-terrorism resources requires no public announcement and is a common-sense step if they firmly believed that the threat was credible enough to terrify an entire city at the most hectic hour. Their overly cautious and deliberate wording in regards to their decisions is cause for a more in depth analysis of the motivation for a late-day press conference that just happened to be mere hours away from a mayoral debate in the Village of Harlem that the mayor refused to attend. Perhaps it is coincidental that Mayor Bloomberg had been receiving severe criticism for this political strategy and snub of the Black constituency and along comes the one thing that will always draw media coverage and public attention.a terror alert. Perhaps the mayor and the police commissioner are playing 3-card monte with public safety without even the courtesy of flashing the cards. Without a doubt and considering the lack of an appropriate local law-enforcement response to such an alleged “specific threat”, it appears that the current administration is placing public relations ahead of public safety.
In spite of the mayor and police commissioner’s rosy picture, NYPD manpower is at the crisis point. A logical question should be, how can the NYPD provide all of the expanded services required in this age of terrorism? More to the point, how many officers are assigned to the Transit Bureau, which seems to be the focus of the terrorism patrols? The deployment of manpower by the NYPD should be critically analyzed and deployed consistent with the level of threat. The random bag-search policy is an illogical gimmick that is providing an emotionally abused public a false sense of security while utilizing police officers as human magnetometers and WMD inspectors. The response to a possible explosives or WMD threat is to have a professional police officer stick his face at the opening of a knapsack to verify its contents. This ill- conceived policy is all flash and little substance. A recently recovered Al-Qaeda manual came up with a well-thought-out plan to avoid this low-tech terrorism prevention strategy. It simply instructed its members to avoid subway stations where the bag searches are being conducted. Perhaps the current administration could adopt a similar common-sense approach to combating terrorism. As long as the citizens fail to demand answers and accountability they will receive neither. Someone needs to report to the masses that “the King has no clothes”.
Former NYPD Detective Mark Claxton coauthored this article.