Within the next few months the NYPD will train and assign 350 police officers to a special counter-terrorism unit. The Strategic Response Group (SRG) will operate vehicles armed with machine guns, and its members will be equipped with riot gear.
SRG’s mission is to respond to terror threats and attacks and to handle widespread public demonstrations such as the protests that broke out after the Eric Gardner grand-jury decision. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton states that SRG was mobilized in response to recent terror attacks, such as the murders of journalists in Paris.
“It will be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not,” Commissioner Bratton said. “It will be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and the machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.”
Commissioner Bratton argues that since SRG will assign officers specialized to handle demonstrations and terror threats, it will relieve the need to take officers from their regularly assignments within their precincts.
Moreover, officers with less specialized roles will be able to develop better relationships with business owners and school coordinators since they wont have to respond to every demonstration or terror incident to which SRG will be exclusively assigned.
However, more officers in general will be trained to handle “active shooter” situations where terrorists are armed with heavy weapons like high-powered rifles used in the Paris attacks.
Some NYPD officers were sent to Paris to study the scene of the shootings. The training will be added to techniques that 130 officers were taught after a 2009 three-day assault in Mumbai on luxury hotels. These officers were taught how to engage assailants in closed-quarters combat armed with semi-automatic rifles loaded with armor-piercing bullets. They were also taught how to rescue hostages in high-rise buildings and hotels.