The mayor and city police commissioner say more cameras need to blanket the five boroughs to help improve the odds in the fight against terrorism, and they stopped by a high-tech NYPD surveillance location in Manhattan on Tuesday to see their efforts first-hand. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly checked out the city's counter-terrorism efforts in Manhattan on Tuesday, to tell the officers behind the scenes who keep a close watch on possible suspicious activity that they are doing a job well done.
"As soon as we become blase about street crime or about terrorism, then you are going to get hurt again and we want to make sure that doesn't happen," Bloomberg said.
That is where the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative comes into play. Some 4,000 cameras can be monitored here by officers and private sector employees from the Financial District.
There are also so-called smart cameras that can be programmed to spot suspicious items left on the street. The NYPD has some facial recognition technology with hundreds of thousands of photos in its database.
The mayor and police commissioner said they want even more cameras on the street.
"People are all worried about privacy. Yes, it is a concern, but given the balance you have between keeping people safe and total privacy, the direction the whole world is going is more cameras and better-quality cameras," Bloomberg said.
After the Boston Marathon bombing, the NYPD counter-terrorism unit has been on heightened alert and the police commissioner said the investigation is ongoing to see if the Boston suspects visited New York for any reason.
With all of the technology and cameras, the mayor and commissioner said there were no guarantees in stopping attacks in the city or anywhere else in the country.
"I'm surprised it hasn't happened more often in other cities," Kelly said. "People who are intent on this sort of thing know that we are out there looking and listening. So they are very aware of that and keep the information very close. So it is a challenge for us."
The police commissioner said he is not concerned about would-be terrorists knowing about all of the cameras, saying it is a good reason for them not to try to attack the city.