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Homeland Security To Cut NYPD Bomb Detection Funding After Obama Says NYC Nuclear Blast Bigger Concern Than Russia

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The NYPD may be forced to make do as the Department of Homeland Security announces massive budget cuts to its bomb detection program.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after President Barack Obama said he’s more concerned about the prospect of a nuclear weapon exploding in New York City than Russia’s recent actions.

And as CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reports, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is now blasting the Obama administration over the dramatic cuts.

“Hard to believe in the ‘Can you believe this Department?’ Schumer said. “Yesterday, the president correctly says he worried about a nuclear weapon, and yet the Department of Homeland Security announces it is cutting this program which is one of our bulwarks to prevent any nuclear weapon from being smuggled into Manhattan.”

The NYPD has some of the most high-tech bomb and radiation detection equipment. But securing the city by land, sea and air comes at a price.

And now the program, which helps the NYPD detect bombs and radiation, is scheduled to be cut from $11 million to $4.7 million, CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported.

“The NYPD informed me of this last night. They were very upset but we will make a fight,” Schumer added.

During a news conference Tuesday, a reporter asked Obama whether his Republican opponent in the last presidential election, Mitt Romney, had a point when he said Russia was America’s biggest geopolitical foe.

The question comes in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Obama responded, in part, by saying Russia’s actions were a problem but that they don’t pose the No. 1 national security threat to the U.S.

“I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan,” he said. “Which is part of the reason why the United States, showing its continued international leadership, has organized a forum over the last several years that’s been able to help eliminate that threat in a consistent way.”

While calling Russia the nation’s top geopolitical foe during the campaign for the White House, Romney said Iran was the top security threat to the U.S. because of its nuclear ambitions.

Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the threat of a bomb going off in New York City is all too real.

“I don’t think we should sugarcoat the threat. We’ve had 16 bomb plots against the city since September 11, (2001),” Kelly said. “This is where they want to come. It’s seen as the cultural capital — the economic capital of the world — and we’re at risk.”

Kelly said the NYPD needs a robust nuclear detection program because we cannot afford to let our guard down, Kramer reported.

The former top cop, who received the ADL’s “Americanism Award,” said was pleased that Obama acknowledged New York’s vulnerability.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also spoke out about the president’s comments.

“I have a strange reaction to it, I think New York City is so resilient,” Giuliani told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond, on Wednesday. “I don’t think the president said anything we don’t know.”

Giuliani made his remarks prior to the event honoring Kelly.

Both men said they hoped Obama’s comments would help the city secure more funding from the U.S Department of Homeland Security.

Schumer said this would be the second cut to the bomb detection program this year, Kramer reported.

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