New NYPD Counterterrorism Unit Raises More Questions than Answers

January 30, 2015

New York, NY - New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton announced yesterday plans to create a new, heavily-armed police unit to respond to both protests and terror threats. According to Bratton, the new counterterrorism unit, called the “Strategic Response Group,” would be made up of 350 officers outfitted with machine guns and heavy protective gear. They would receive advanced training in counterterrorism tactics and “advance disorder control.”

For many, including Faiza Patel and Michael Price of the Brennan Center, the creation of a new counterterrorism police unit creates more questions than answers.

“With policy-community relations at an all-time low and increasing concern about the militarization of local police, it is unclear how the creation of a special unit to monitor demonstrations is going to be helpful,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “The NYPD should be working with communities to help keep people safe, not arming police officers with machine guns.”

“The NYPD’s counterterrorism policies are already controversial and the subject of ongoing tension,” added Michael Price, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Creating a new unit without addressing existing concerns is not likely to improve trust between police and the communities they serve. At the very least, we need more information from the NYPD on what exactly this new team will be doing, what rules apply, and how they will operate.”

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact Seth Hoy at seth.hoy@nyu.edu or 646-292-8369.