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London attack: NYPD steps up security at British locations in NYC

Following the London terror attack, the NYPD stepped

Following the London terror attack, the NYPD stepped its counterterrorism patrols at key spots in New York City. Above, armed NYPD officers stand guard outside City Hall Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

The NYPD stepped up security at British locations throughout the city on Wednesday, including the British Consulate General and the U.K. Mission to the United Nations, following what British police are calling a terrorist incident in London.

There was no specific threat to the city, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said during an unrelated event at police headquarters.

“We’re at a tremendous capacity right now,” O’Neill said about the city’s ability to prevent attacks and respond in the case of one. “Everybody in New York needs to know that the NYPD, along with their federal partners, this is something that we’re working on all the time to keep everybody safe.”

The increased security comes as a suspect plowed a car into a group of pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge about 2:40 p.m. London time, police said. The vehicle then careened into a gate at the nearby Parliament building; the perpetrator jumped out — trying to enter Parliament — and stabbed a police officer, before he was fatally shot by police.

The policeman, two members of the public and the man believed to be the attacker were killed, and at least 40 others were injured, several seriously, Mark Rowley, Britain’s national lead for counter terrorism policing and the acting deputy commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, told reporters.

The attack occurred on the anniversary of the deadly suicide bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people and injured hundreds.

“We are working very closely with the U.K. authorities,” said Thomas Galati, the NYPD’s chief of intelligence. He added that the NYPD has a liaison officer stationed in London.

Members of the Critical Response Command, trained in taking down active shooters, were redeployed to British-sensitive locations, other city agencies and Jewish locations ahead of Passover, said counterterrorism chief James Waters.

On Wednesday, an increased police presence was visible outside the British consulate, with as many as six NYPD Counterterrorism SUVs parked in front of the Third Avenue building in midtown. Officers armed with assault rifles stood guard outside.

Galati said the attack appeared to mirror directives from the ISIS magazine Rumiyah in which lone wolves have been encouraged to carry out vehicle-based attacks.

Rowley said the “working assumption” is that the attacker was “inspired by international terrorism.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack “deeply distressing” and said the city’s investment in CRC officers was necessary to protect New Yorkers.

“We will keep that protection in place as long as we deem necessary,” he said about Wednesday’s deployment. “It’s a reminder that it’s a very dangerous environment in this world and a place like London, just like New York City, is a leading terror target.”

O’Neill said the concept of the lone-wolf attacker “is a great concern.” He added that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts could result in more than a $100 million loss to counterterrorism efforts, calling the grants an “important part” of the department’s budget.

“We did it after Paris, after Brussels, after San Bernardino, we redeployed people,” O’Neill said. “And that’s, I think, the beauty of having CRC; those assets can be redeployed immediately.”

With Vincent Barone

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