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Police Commissioner William Bratton: NYPD needs more counterterrorism cops

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton delivers an update on

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton delivers an update on crimestatistics, 1 Police Plaza, Monday, May 11, 2015. Credit: Bryan R. Smith

In the face of new warnings from Washington about the threat of the Islamic State, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Monday said he needed at least 400 more cops to beef up the city's counterterrorism operations.

"The terrorism picture in this city and this country has changed dramatically since 16 months ago," Bratton told reporters during a crime briefing at police headquarters.

"The ISIS threat as referenced yesterday by Secretary of Homeland Security has morphed to new, terrible directions and we remain the number one terrorist target in the country," Bratton said, referencing remarks Sunday by Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson.

"I am looking for those 400 additional officers into Mr. [John] Miller's operation," explained Bratton, referring to his chief of intelligence and counterterrorism.

On Sunday, Johnson said social media has given the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, the ability to inspire more lone-wolf attacks in the United States. He called the situation a "new environment" of terrorism.

Bratton's call for more cops again underlined his differences with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the issue. De Blasio said last week he wasn't asking for more cops in his latest budget.

The proposed additional counterterrorism cops would be used to buttress a special critical response unit of officers and vehicles dedicated to reacting to threats. Currently, so-called CRV officers are culled from different units as needed.

During the briefing Bratton and his key top brass also said that more cops will be switching to street patrols over the summer to deal with increased crime, particularly shootings on Sundays, in certain parts of the city.

In a reprise of last year's Summer All-Out program, as many as 400 cops will be taken from administrative and others units and given temporary assignment in 15 of the city's high-crime areas, Bratton said.

A similar program last year began in early July but cops are going to start a few weeks earlier to get a jump on fighting violence that has plagued central Brooklyn and parts of the Bronx.

While overall serious crime remains down by about 7 percent, shootings jumped by more than 8 percent through Sunday so far this year over the same period in 2014, a situation Bratton said was driven largely by gang-related violence. Homicides are up by 10 percent, although half of that increase is from reclassified cases from previous years.

The NYPD also will ramp up an overall summer violence reduction program with uniform officers, warrant squads and other units, Chief of Department James O'Neil said.Bratton noted that Central Park experienced a spate of three high-profile robberies over the weekend but he said all the incidents were unrelated and part of what he called an "aberration."

"Every once and a while you have that abberation, that park remains one of the safest places in America," insisted Bratton. "Central Park is the crown jewel of the city park system."

To allay public concerns, the NYPD will be ramping up uniform and vehicle patrols in Central Park, officials said.

Bratton noted that Sunday was turning into a key day of the week for violence in the city, a fact borne out by recent ShotSpotter hits, which detect gunfire. Jessica Tisch, deputy commissioner for technology, said on Sunday the ShotSpotter towers in the Bronx and Brooklyn picked up 52 acoustic hits of gunfire, the most so far in what is a two-month experiment with the technology. Tisch said that out of 220 ShotSpotter hits in the past month, 43, or 20 percent, have led to police getting evidence of crimes. But in only one case has that evidence led to an arrest, Tisch acknowledged.

Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said that the new technology is expected to reap investigative benefits as police analyze the evidence.

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