New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the five-man bomb squad team that took apart the Times Square SUV packed with explosives, calling them role models during a Wednesday morning visit to the precinct where they're based.

"Because of them, the rest of us can sleep well at night," Bloomberg said at the Sixth Precinct in the West Village. "If you see something, say something and turn it over to these guys."

Bloomberg and police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who are due to testify before Congress Wednesday seeking more Homeland Security funds for the city, declined to discuss specifics of the investigation into Faisal Shahzad, who is charged with leaving the explosives-packed Nissan Pathfinder on West 45th Street.

"If anybody questions what the target is, it's always New York," Bloomberg said. "If this weekend doesn't show it, I don't know what would."

Kelly praised the city and federal investigation and said the FBI shouldn't be criticized for apparently losing track of Shahzad Monday afternoon.

"It's not that infrequent, quite frankly, in surveillance to lose someone for a period of time," Kelly said. "The good news is that this individual was apprehended after 53 hours, and he's talking and we hope to use that information to prevent another event like this."

Bomb Squad Sgt. John Ryan said the makeshift bomb in the SUV was "much larger" that what they typically encounter, but said the mechanics of securing it was business as usual.

"Being in Times Square, your radar goes up a little higher," Ryan said. "But it's just something we do. It's muscle memory. You do it, you get used to doing it."

Det. Patrick LaScala, who operated a robot that shot out the SUV's windows, was the first to look inside the Pathfinder. "I believe it's a bomb," he recalled telling Ryan.

The unit's commander, Lt. Mark Torre, said the group puts itself at "great risk" on a daily basis.

"You cannot become paralyzed because there is nobody else but us to take care of this," Torre said. "You have to control yourself and get the job done. There is nobody to turn to. There's no federal agency, there's no military. It's us. You think about the mission at hand and get the job done, and you do exactly what these men did."

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