Get ready to see lots more cops with riot gear and machine guns patrolling your neighborhood. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced today that the department is creating a 350-strong new unit focused on counterterrorism. They'll be armed to the teeth, and they're coming to a precinct near you.
When Bratton made the announcement, he drew a deeply troubling line through the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, 2008 terrorism in Mumbai, and New York's mostly peaceful protests following the Eric Garner non-indictment, claiming that the new unit will deal with all of those sorts of things. From DNAinfo:
"[The unit] is designed to deal with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai, or what just happened in Paris," Bratton said Thursday. "It will be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not."
He added that the unit would be suited up with, "extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and the machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances."
Of course, there's a cavernous difference between a non-violent demonstration and a gang of murderers with assault rifles, but you get what he means: tough stuff. Scary stuff.
Shortly after the announcement, a department spokesman was walking back the idea that police officers would be patrolling marches with military gear. But given the ways the NYPD has gone after protesters with batons, pepper spray, and their own fists in the past, it's not like they need it anyway.
[Image via AP]