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New York responds to Brussels attacks

A Belgian flag reading "We are all Brussels"

A Belgian flag reading "We are all Brussels" stands at a makeshift memorial at Place de la Bourse following attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016. Credit: Getty Images / Kenzo Tribouillard

Terror attacks struck Brussels Tuesday morning, with explosions at the city’s airport and inside its transit system, killing at least 30.

Hours later, at a news conference at 1 Police Plaza in Manhattan, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that law enforcement authorities were aware of “no specific and credible threat against New York City at this time.”

He noted heightened security that the NYPD and law enforcement partners had put in place around the city: heavy-weapons teams from the NYPD’s new counterterror squads, subway bag checks, and enhanced presence in the subway system, for example.

Police Commissioner William Bratton gave an eyewitness example of that coverage, describing his subway ride from Grand Central Terminal, where he passed National Guard and MTA officers, as well as NYPD Critical Response Command personnel and transit canine units.

On the train, there were four Strategic Response Group officers equipped with long guns. He “felt very secure,” he said. And New Yorkers should, too, by implication, protected by the many levels of anti-terror units and precautions enacted by the NYPD and its partners, sharpened by analysis of previous attacks abroad.

But the mayor and law enforcement officials said prevention was most important of all. De Blasio spoke of the terror plots “thwarted” by the NYPD since 9/11.

NYPD Intelligence and counterterrorism head John Miller later spoke of the importance of intelligence and prevention, quoting Sun Tzu as saying, “He who protects everything protects nothing.”

In that regard, NYPD officials continued their press for full funding from the federal government for anti-terror activities and equipment, and more dire warnings of the dangers of encryption.

As city officials respond to the difficulty of protecting soft targets, New Yorkers are again reminded that problems in faraway places are problems close to home.

This post was first featured in The Point, the editorial board's daily newsletter going inside New York politics. Subscribe now.

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