NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — CBS2 recently took a ride with the NYPD’s elite Harbor Unit, which is ramping up security measures and counterterrorism efforts with all the new city-wide ferries popping up.
Reporter Reena Roy got an inside look at how the highly trained officers are keeping New Yorkers safe.READ MORE: Man Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Children At Bronx Day Care Since 2018 Arrested
With more than 500 miles of waterfront, from north of the George Washington Bridge all the way south past the Rockaways, New York Harbor is not easy to protect, especially with more ferries than ever before.
“There’s a lot more traffic and routes we have never dealt with, longer routes,” NYPD Inspector Anthony Russo said.
The city first launched four lines last year with 3 million riders. This summer, new routes to the Bronx and Lower East Side will at least 4.5 million by the end of 2018.
And by 2023, officials expect 9 million riders annually.
But the NYPD Harbor Unit always comes prepared if something goes awry.
“As the service has expanded, we’ve upped our responsibilities and beefed up our patrols,” Russo said.
The unit has 180 specially trained officers that scout the waters on state-of-the-art, bulletproof and fully equipped high-speed boats, which is key in an emergency.
“So right now we’re doing a little bit over 30 knots and we’re able to execute a full 180 turn fast, good deterrent for bad guys,” Russo said.
So is keeping a close eye on things with sophisticated radiation detectors and infrared cameras.READ MORE: Overnight Gun Violence: 3 Men Shot In Queens, Innocent Woman Shot In Brooklyn, NYPD Says
“If there was something hot that was detonating I could see it with this,” Russo said, demonstrating how some of the high-tech gadgetry works.
A big part of keeping riders safe is the ferry escort. The NYPD boats travel closely by the ferries, with a heavily armed officer ready to go at any moment.
When asked what he is looking at when he’s escorting this ferry, Russo said, “Right now, we’re looking for any small vessels that approach in threatening manner. He’s suited up and ready to go.”
The escorts are random, and the unit stays in contact with ferry captains.
“We have schematics of every boat. We know where the engine room is,” Russo said.
A big part of officer training is active shooter drills.
“Our training is to go towards the threat,” Russo said.
The unit’s plan of action is always strategic.
“We want to pop up all over, anywhere and everywhere with no predictable pattern,” Russo said.MORE NEWS: NYPD: Suspect In Custody For Possible DWI After Injuring Officer At Traffic Checkpoint In Lower Manhattan
So the waters of our city stay safe, no matter who’s on them or when.