NYPD eyes ramped-up security for Jewish High Holy Days as Syria tensions rise

NYPD Capt. Wilson of the 7th Precinct, left, NYPD Capt. Wilson of the 7th Precinct, left, speaks with Abe Rosenberg, NYPD clergy liaison, before a High Holy Days security briefing for Jewish and community leaders at One Police Plaza. (Aug 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

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New York City will take necessary steps to ramp up security should the United States take military action against Syria, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly told Jewish clergy and leaders Tuesday during a pre-High Holy Days briefing.

As has become standard practice for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the NYPD will deploy officers and vehicles around houses of worship, with additional resources to be sent to precincts with large Jewish communities, Kelly said at the meeting inside police headquarters.

This year, security concerns among the Jewish clergy have risen amid the possibility the United States and its allies might strike at the regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad in retaliation for suspected use of chemical weapons against his own people.

"We don't know what is going to happen, but we are as well-prepared as any big police department in the country to respond," Kelly told the group.

Kelly noted that the NYPD has special heavily armed Hercules vehicles ready to deploy around key buildings, hotels and other structures.

Rebecca U. Weiner, director of intelligence analysis for the NYPD, briefed the meeting about current terrorism threats in the Middle East, with emphasis on the situation in Syria.

"It appears that President Obama's red line has been crossed," Weiner said of U.S. warnings to Assad about chemical weapons.

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Kelly told the clergy that where necessary, they could talk to local precinct anti-crime officers and commanders to get help in enhancing their own security measures at synagogues and other religious institutions.

Rosh Hashanah observances begin at sundown Sept. 4 and run through sundown Sept. 6. Yom Kippur services begin the evening of Sept. 13 and end at sundown Sept. 14.

Speaking to reporters later, Kelly explained that the NYPD has no intelligence that the city would be subject to any attack if Syria was struck.

"We are always concerned about it [terrorism] reflecting back to the U.S., so that is why we are constantly looking for what is a happening around the world," Kelly said.The NYPD has 11 officers stationed abroad to serve as intelligence listening posts and liaisons with foreign police and security agencies.

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