Home Subway Security With more DHS money for transit comes submachine guns

With more DHS money for transit comes submachine guns

by Benjamin Kabak

Coming soon to the subway: Police officers with automatic rifles and submachine guns in your subway car. And bomb-sniffing dogs. And Kevlar-helmets. Oh, my.

Thanks to an influx of Homeland Security funds, New York City and the MTA are beefing up subway security. While I can’t complain about the money or the focus on the soft underbelly of our city’s security, I have to wonder if they’re going about it the right way. Al Baker, writing over the weekend in The New York Times, has more:

In the first counterterrorism strategy of its kind in the nation, roving teams of New York City police officers armed with automatic rifles and accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol the city’s subway system daily, beginning next month, officials said on Friday.

Under a tactical plan called Operation Torch, the officers will board trains and patrol platforms, focusing on sites like Pennsylvania Station, Herald Square, Columbus Circle, Rockefeller Center and Times Square in Manhattan, and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Officials said the operation would begin in March.

Financing for the program will be funneled to the Police Department and will come from a pool of up to $30 million taken from $153.2 million in new federal transit grants to the state.

New Yorkers riding the subway each day tend to forget that the subways are a very viable target and that they aren’t really secure. Various security projects are falling months behind schedule, and New York City’s transit infrastructure has long been stiffed by Homeland Security.

But armed officers patrolling trains cars? Is this designed to root out terrorists or keep rowdy riders in check? I would have to believe that this money is better spent securing tunnels, rail yards and other access points. We need strategic counterterrorism measures and not just for-show displays of arms. Hopefully, the remaining $120 million will be used in a more sensible matter.

Meanwhile, a few months ago, I noted that the subways were getting 1.5¢ per person of federal money for security while the airlines were raking in $7 per person. With this 56-percent increase, does that mean we’re now at a whopping 2.25¢ per person?

“New York remains at the top of the terrorist target list, and mass transit remains a concern because it has been targeted many times around the world,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. I feel safer already.

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7 comments

Streetsblog » Today’s Headlines February 4, 2008 - 8:40 am

[…] Now Costs $394 for Some Trucks (Bloomberg)New Subway Security Measures to Include Rifles, Dogs (AM, 2nd Ave Sagas)Fare Hike Leads Straphangers to Economize on MetroCard Use (AM)Ferry Commuters Bemoan Water Taxi […]

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Jonathan February 4, 2008 - 12:21 pm

Automatic rifles, like the M4 that PD’s Operation Atlas uses, and indoor environments really don’t go together. The extra barrel length makes the rounds travel further and ricochet more. Pistols would be more effective.

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tell me you love me & music » what, me angry? February 4, 2008 - 4:44 pm

[…] and since we’d rather devote our love to Professor Murder instead of blog whipping boys the NYPD, we’ll go ahead and post a little remix that just came our way… And to prove that PM […]

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The Secret Conductor February 5, 2008 - 6:47 am

Well… this will be interesting to watch. Sort of excessive but I guess since they haven’t put the other stuff in play as of yet, then this is the best feasible idea.

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » When subway security and MTA technology collide February 6, 2008 - 1:32 am

[…] the MTA should use some of that $150 million from the Department of Homeland Security for the surveillance project instead of an automatic rifle […]

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive » City Council questions MTA’s security plans February 15, 2008 - 2:21 am

[…] as the agency has tried to implement its long-overdue security plan. While Homeland Security has funneled more money toward the MTA, the reality is that the MTA’s $1.1 billion plan to secure the subways is short funds and […]

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Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways » Blog Archive April 25, 2008 - 12:28 pm

[…] introduced you in February to the plans to bring armed security personnel into the subway. Yesterday, SUBWAYblogger saw a few of the first armed teams dispatched as part of Operation Torch, […]

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