2012 counterterrorism: NYPD acquires fleet of underwater drones
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
The nation’s largest, most sophisticated law enforcement agency, the New York City Police Department, announced its acquisition of new, high-tech equipment to help police officers keep the city safe from terrorists: the NYPD’s Harbor Unit now possesses six unmanned underwater drones to help bomb technicians and emergency services unit officers to detect suspected underwater explosives.
The NYPD now possesses six underwater drones, with each costing between $75,000 and $120,000 depending on the drones’ capabilities.
These drones help to sweep the city’s waterways and bridges searching for possible bombs and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). In a recent drone demonstration, NYPD officers easily tossed the lightweight – sixteen pound – submersible equipped with lights and sonar into the harbor and sailed it beneath the hull of a large commercial tanker docked close to the Kings County (Brooklyn) Army Terminal.
The police officers showed that they were able to guide the drone via remote control in order to utilize its underwater camera to search below the ship. The drone operators, all of whom are veteran detectives, have been trained to identify what biological or radiological weapons look like and where underwater explosives or narcotics are most likely to be hidden.
Under Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and later his replacement Ray Kelly, the Harbor Unit is used more in performing counterterrorism operations than the unit is used to conduct rescue and recovery operations.
On most days the unit receives several security alerts from the police department’s Intelligence Division each day. This situation demands that the unit inspects suspicious boats below bridges, sweep an incoming cargo ship’s hull, or respond to a report of a “suspicious floating package.”
With thousands of cargo ships entering New York Harbor and millions of shipping containers being delivered, the law enforcement recognizes the reality that New York’s harbor and waterways are prime terrorist targets.
Should the police find a suspected underwater device they have been instructed to call in the U.S. Navy, since NYPD bomb squad members are not trained to neutralize underwater explosives.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.