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NYC transit on alert after India train bombings

(Newsday posted the following article by Rocco Parascandola and Andrew Strickler on its website on July 12.)

NEW YORK -- The commuter train bombings in India had an immediate impact in New York City, with the NYPD ratcheting up security by keeping an entire platoon of cops on duty past their shift and searching hundreds of more bags, police said.

As with a number of other recent terror threats around the globe, there was no indication that the city was in danger of an imminent attack.

But the NYPD, as it routinely does in this age of terror, took a number of steps to secure the nation's largest subway system, with plans to maintain the heightened security through the night.

"We don't know enough information, but in an abundance of caution we're going to add additional personnel and resources to the system," police Commissioner Ray Kelly said yesterday morning. "We want the riders to have a certain comfort level, to know that the Police Department is aware of the risks that are out there."

The Transit Bureau's second tour, which normally ends its shift about 3:30 p.m., was ordered held over through rush hour, with most of those officers assigned to ride the subway and patrol platforms.

At the same time, the department's daily terrorism drill -- known as a surge -- focused entirely on the subway system, a departure from routine, which involves up to 150 officers rushing to sensitive locations, such as the Empire State Building, from various commands throughout the city.

Police also conducted a greater number of Total Order Maintenance Sweeps, or TOMS, a security check of trains just before they enter a tunnel or over a bridge.

Michael Bloomberg said the extra vigilance "is just a reality of the post-911 world.

"I would urge New Yorkers not to worry," he said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure that these type of things don't happen here."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority yesterday increased police patrols on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad and was "taking all necessary precautions," said Tim O'Brien, spokesman for MTA. He declined to provide details.

Other NYPD security measures targeted the Staten Island Ferry, where extra officers were posted, and the city's waterways, with additional cops from the harbor units on duty.

The increased security comes less than a week after the NYPD instituted similar measures in the wake of news from overseas that authorities had thwarted a plot to blow up PATH train tunnels in the Hudson River.

"It doesn't faze me anymore," said Phillip Prado, a 43-year-old Staten Islander, at the Herald Square station during last night's rush hour. "When I hear loud bangs I jump a bit, but nothing down here bothers me anymore."

Others, such as Helena Davidovich, 57, from Borough Park, said seeing the extra police officers was disconcerting. "It makes me a little nervous because it makes you think something could happen," Davidovich said at the Herald Square station. "My heart goes a little 'tap, tap."'

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who, along with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), yesterday introduced an amendment increasing homeland security funding by $300 million, said the bombings "reminds us of our vulnerability to attack."

Mass transit "is the soft underbelly," Clinton said. "We've seen it in Madrid, we've seen it in London and now we've seen it in Bombay."

Schumer added: "All you have to do is look at what happened in India this morning ... and you realize we are doing virtually nothing on mass transit."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

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