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Suffolk police unveil new equipment to fight terror attacks

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at a news conference in Ronkonkoma, unveiled $116,000 in new equipment designed to fight terror attacks in the wake of mass shootings as in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded. Credit: James Carbone

Seeking to reassure residents in the wake of the Las Vegas concert shooting, the Suffolk County police commissioner unveiled $116,000 in new equipment Thursday designed to fight terrorism and active-shooter scenarios.

The new equipment includes several drones that Commissioner Timothy Sini said could help should a shooter attack from a high altitude, such as in the Las Vegas attack.

Other equipment includes battery-operated Jaws of Life tools to extricate people from cars, a 12-foot inflatable boat and a vehicle capable of detecting radiation that could help find bomb-making sites. The radiation vehicle was a surplus Chevrolet Suburban donated by the federal government, and the rest of the equipment was obtained through federal and state grants and asset-forfeiture funds.

Sini, a Democrat who is running for district attorney, said he held the news conference so people know police are employing state-of-the-art devices to ensure public safety in the wake of attacks such as the one Sunday night in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed and nearly 500 were wounded.

“These tools are going to save lives,” he said.

Nine of the tools are designed to help release people trapped in crashed cars and aircraft or collapsed buildings. The tools upgrade older models used by police that must be tethered to a heavy hydraulic pump. The new tools are battery-powered, which will speed rescuers’ response and allow better access to tough spots.

Police officers offered a dramatic demonstration of the power of these tools, using a junk car. An officer pressed the Jaws of Life into the front passenger side, and the device whirred loudly as it bent and tore at the metal, eventually popping open the door.

“Each second matters,” said Sini, who stood before an American flag at half staff. “The quicker we can respond, the quicker we can extricate people from life-threatening situations, the more chances we have to save lives.”

The 12-foot inflatable boat will save vital time when police respond to situations on Suffolk’s rivers and landlocked lakes such as Lake Ronkonkoma. In the past, the officers had to borrow a boat from a nearby resident, Sini said. The boat will also serve during floods and other natural disasters, such as superstorm Sandy, Sini said.

It was the acquisition of four aerial drones that most clearly brought to mind the carnage in Las Vegas. The camera-equipped drones are capable of flying hundreds of feet high and up to four miles away from the handler.

“The drones can be effective in assessing a threat, and locating a threat, in a situation like Las Vegas, where the gunman used altitude to his advantage,” Sini said.

He added that whatever technology and equipment the police department obtains, the outcome of any situation depends on the officers involved.

“In the end of the day, it comes down to the professionalism and bravery of the Suffolk County police officers,” he said.

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