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NY officials step up security measures after Iranian general's killing

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller speaks as he is joined by NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference Friday. Credit: Craig Ruttle

New York City and Long Island police officials Friday announced beefed-up security measures Friday following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq a day earlier.

During a hastily called news briefing at City Hall, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea assured New Yorkers that there was no credible or specific threat against the city. But at the same time, Shea said there would be an increased presence of heavily armed uniformed officers at critical facilities such as bridges, tunnels and other important infrastructure.

"No one has to be reminded that New York City is the number one terrorist target in the United States," de Blasio said.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said police patrols, already on the alert following high profile and violent anti-Semitic acts, have increased.

“We’ve upped our patrols,” Ryder said. “We are not only covering the Jewish communities, we’re covering the entire county.”

In a statement, the Suffolk County Police Department said it “has a robust and long-standing homeland security program, which now includes our SCPD Shield program in partnership with NYPD Shield. “

There was no current credible terrorist threat aimed at Suffolk County, the SCPD added.

MTA security chief Patrick Warren said the agency was working closely with the NYPD to keep the transportation system safe.

In a prepared statement Friday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he has told state public safety and emergency response agencies to increase security at critical infrastructure points, including deploying the National Guard at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

The statement also said the state Department of Public Service has contacted electric, natural gas, telephone and water utilities, and directed them to boost vigilance for cyber and physical security. In addition, the State Police are to brief law enforcement agencies statewide on the situation and issue updates as events warrant.

"We are prepared for any situation that's thrown our way and will continue to communicate any pertinent information to local governments and to the general public to ensure everyone is safe," Cuomo said. 

On the local law enforcement front, John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, said Iran has a history of using covert agents and proxies to spy on potential targets in the United States, including New York City. 

As they have done in the past, Miller, Shea and de Blasio stressed the importance of people keeping their eyes and ears attuned to anything that doesn’t seem right, such as suspicious photography or attempts to elicit information about security measures.

De Blasio said the best way to deal with adversaries is to keep them off guard by doing things like random bag checks.

"You will see more officers and more unpredictability," de Blasio said. "We are going to do everything we can to keep New Yorkers safe." 

With Robert Brodsky and Alfonso Castillo

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