Although no one asked for them, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is sending 150 state troopers to patrol MTA bridges and tunnels supposedly to help the NYPD fight terrorism.
Cuomo couched his announcement last week as part of a crackdown on drivers who skip paying bridge and tunnel tolls. Collection, he said, is to be digitized next year.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t think the more security the better right now,” he said, citing terrorism risks.
Until now, many thought Cuomo was bringing his troopers into NYC — starting with two-man details on the HOV lanes in Staten Island — as part of his power feud with Mayor Bill de Blasio. Now one has to wonder whether it’s just a pure power grab. Some city pols say Cuomo — who’s believed to be angling for a presidential run down the road — was irritated that de Blasio and the NYPD got all the attention from the Chelsea bombing in September while the State Police role was ignored.
This is not to suggest that additional resources cannot be useful. Former Commissioner Ray Kelly made a big deal of how the NYPD protected the Brooklyn Bridge after an Ohio trucker came to NYC to cut the bridge’s cables but lacked the proper equipment.
Kelly then said the NYPD would guard the bridge around the clock. He never explained how in 2012 a graffiti artist was able to climb one of the bridge’s stanchions and tag his name in three spots.
What remains unclear is to what extent the State Police coordinate anti-terrorism strategies with the NYPD, which has a more experienced counterterrorism force. Spokesman Beau Duffy said State Police have been in touch with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Deputy Commissioner John Miller. “We will continue to coordinate with the NYPD on counterterrorism issues,” he said.
“They tell us wherever they are deployed on state property. We have no issue with that,” Miller said.
Other law enforcement officials say that while State Police and the NYPD get on well, State Police know they are best utilized upstate and not as auxiliaries to the 36,000-person city force.
They point out that former State Police Sup. Joe D’Amico resigned this year because he opposed Cuomo’s plan for an increased State Police presence in NYC.