Ray Kelly: the NYPD Could Take Down an Aircraft if Necessary


NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly appeared on 60 Minutes last night to talk about New York City’s counterterrorism unit, created after 9/11, which now numbers 35,000 uniformed police officers and 15,000 civilian employees. The interview with Scott Pelley includes a look at the NYPD’s $3 billion joint operations center, developed over the last 10 years and including representatives from the military, FBI, FEMA, and state and local first responders. Of particular note was this question from Pelley: “Are you satisfied that you’ve dealt with threats from aircraft, even light planes, model planes, that kind of thing?”

Kelly’s response: “It’s something that’s on our radar screen. In an extreme situation, we have some means to take down a plane…”

Pelley: “Do you mean to say the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?”

Kelly: “Yes. I’d prefer not to get into the details, but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation…”

Pelley: “You have the means and the training?”

Kelly: “Yes.”

Technology built specifically for the NYPD includes radiological and nuclear detectors on boats, radiation detectors on helicopters and trucks, and detectors on cops’ gun belts so sensitive that people who’ve had medical procedures may trigger them. And Lower Manhattan now includes thousands of surveillance cameras that can identify shapes and sizes of unidentified “suspicious” packages and can track people descriptions, like, “someone wearing a red shirt,” within seconds.

From the segment:

It is nearly impossible now to walk a block in lower Manhattan without being on television. There are 2,000 cameras, and soon there will be 3,000 — all of which feed into this control center housed in a secret location.

Soothing! Or…terrifying?

Fighting terrorism in New York City [CBS]. Watch the 60 Minutes segment here.