New York - Police Expand Dirty Bomb Security 50 Miles Around NYC
New York, NY - Thousands of additional law enforcement officers within 50 miles of New York City will have access to radiation detectors for dirty bombs and nuclear devices, New York police said today.
The detectors, including cell phone-sized devices that officers wear on their belts, could help uncover a dirty bomb that might be assembled outside New York and smuggled in, police said at a security conference. New York Police Department officers have used such devices for several years.
Police spokesman Paul Browne said thousands of law enforcement officers would be using the devices in areas surrounding New York City, including state police and sheriff’s departments in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The increase in officers and equipment was being funded by a federal program called “Securing the Cities” that had been allocated $54 million in the past three years, Browne said.
Nearly eight years after the September 11 attacks in 2001, New York remains the top target for groups like al Qaeda planning attacks on the United States, police and lawmakers said, and the possibility of a radiological attack on a public transport system remained high.
“We know that terrorists come here and we know that they are surveying here,” said Captain Michael Riggio of the NYPD counterterrorism division.
The belt devices, which buzz when they detect radiation, are the “first line of defense” against a possible dirty bomb or a small-scale nuclear device, he said.
A dirty bomb, which combines conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive material, could have a devastating impact and close down the surrounding area for several years.
Police hope the small detectors will soon be equipped with Bluetooth technology and synchronized with a police command center that will instantaneously trace on a map the exact location of radiological material and snap a picture of the offending vehicle or person.
The use of larger radiation detection devices, which are set up in NYPD cars, boats and helicopters and at subway, bridge and car tunnel entrances, is also being expanded.
While security experts believed the threat of a global nuclear war had decreased, the risk of a one-off radiological or nuclear attack had increased, Riggio said.
Browne said small-scale nuclear devices were harder to make so a dirty bomb was a more likely pick for militant groups.
“We still don’t have an adequate strategy of detecting nuclear material,” New York Police commissioner Ray Kelly said at the conference. Browne said Kelly was referring to inadequate security at the country’s ports, where radioactive materials could be smuggled in through large cargo containers.
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