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British cops pop in for rail terror program

(The following story by Pete Donohue appeared on the New York Daily News website on March 5, 2009.)

NEW YORK — A contingent of English bobbies brought their rather more civilized style of policing to midtown Thursday.

Sporting distinctive 19th century helmets, members of the British Transport Police strolled through Penn Station with teams of Amtrak anti-terror agents.

The English lads, assigned to a London counterterrorism unit, don't carry guns. The Amtrak agents display rapid-firing assault rifles. Some Amtrak agents had German shepherds at their side. Back home, their British counterparts use collies and spaniels to sniff out explosives, in part because they don't intimidate regular travelers.

"It's a different style of policing," British Transport Police Sgt. Neil Forsyth said.

The five bobbies are participating in a week-long, tactic-sharing program with Amtrak. They also visited the major train hubs in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Illegal guns are much more common in London these days, but Forsyth said he's comfortable patrolling without a firearm.

"I give him a lot of credit and respect," one police officer assigned to Penn Station said, adding he couldn't imagine patrolling without a gun on his hip.

"We get zero respect as it is, and that's with the equipment and the uniform," the officer said.

Locals were - typically - unfazed.

"The hats make them look taller," said Brad Natler, 29, waiting for an NJ Transit train, "and the reflective gear is interesting."

Friday, March 6, 2009

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