The Richmond Hill Block Association hosted Deputy Chief Michael A. Blake at its meeting on March 30 to speak about terrorism and steps the Counterterrorism Division is taking.
Blake has been the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division and has been there now for three years.
The chief talked about the different sections within the unit, their functions and gave an overview of the various actions taken to protect New York.
The unit has set up bag checks in the transit system, cameras in the Port Authority and is involved in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center by making recommendations for establishing security.
Blake described the officers in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a section under the division, as “the guys chasing Bin Laden and working with agencies all over the world to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring anywhere in the continental Unites States.”
There is also a 12-course training section that has already trained over 122,000 members of the service, including Port Authority police officers, security directors at Goldman Sachs, members of Con Edison and the Marines.
“We need security professionals out there to help us, to be our eyes and ears and report back to us in order to help prevent an attack,” said Blake.
He emphasized the fact that much of the efforts done by the unit and participating agencies are only through sharing information between the different groups. The division works with federal and law enforcement agencies around the world in testing equipment, training and various aspects of terrorism assessment.
Blake also talked about the importance of following the slogan “if you see something, say something.”
“You have to know to pick up the phone,” said Blake. “Even if you just see a backpack, it is reason enough to call 9-1-1.”
When an audience member asked what an average person can do to help, Blake said, “You guys walk the streets, see the neighborhood. If you see something suspicious, you have to let us know.”
“Can we prevent it 100 percent? Absolutely not. But we’re in a good shape for the shape we’re at.”