A specialized NYPD unit that was unveiled this year with three missions is becoming a lot more visible on the streets. But some people are questioning its actions.
Officers with high-powered weapons on terrorism watch have become common site in many parts of Manhattan. But you may be seeing a lot more of them in other boroughs.
"They will be Times Square on New Year's Eve," said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. "You will see these vehicles throughout the city."
Commissioner Bratton is talking about the Strategic Response Group or SRG.
Recently the unit was posted at the Bay Plaza Mall in the Bronx. It's unusual for the SRG to venture outside Manhattan.
When NY1's Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger posted this picture on social media, some people liked it and welcomed the extra protection, but others were concerned including, Tony McDay.
The New York Civil Liberties union says it's going to keep a close watch on SRG.
"It is worrisome when the police department merges the responsibilities for policing first amendment protected demonstrations with the responsibility for fighting terrorism and dealing with hostage situations," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.
The issue gained national attention after police used military equipment to suppress protests over the death of Michael Brown. But the NYPD says SRG is trained to deal with different situations, including terrorism, active shooters and protests.
"They will be at demonstrations but not in the function that you saw behind us," said Chief of Department James O'Neill after a recent demonstration of the unit. "That is in the event of disorder control."
"That would be a situation if you had a disorderly crowd, mob, whatever."
SRG will work as a back up to the emergency service unit and counter terrorism.
Although the Strategic Response Group is a new unit, in essence it replaced the borough task forces.
"Our primary mission is to fight crime," said Chief Steven Hughes. "So we generally look where robberies and the shootings are occurring in the city."
SRG officers are sent to those precincts to address spikes in crime.
"As in all things the department has to be multi-faceted in its capabilities."
And he says that what SRG is.