One hundred New York City police officers stood in front of their new headquarters on Randall's Island as the inaugural members of the Critical Response Command on Monday.
Despite being in the works over the last year, the volunteer-only unit rolled out in their squad cars days after a series of terrorist attacks abroad perpetrated by the Islamic State.
"You are coming into being at just the right time, as the threat picture has changed so dramatically, and the threat picture that is changing and evolving is one that you are being prepared to meet," Bratton told the officers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio hailed the unit as the latest effort to modernize the city's counterterrorism efforts. Eventually, the team will grow to 560 members and will be outfitted with heavy equipment including gun boxes, long guns and heavy vests.
"We know our city is the chief terror target in this country. We live with that reality, and it requires us to be vigilant every single day," de Blasio added. "Sometimes we take additional measures, but we are vigilant every day, and we have been for 14 years."
Each member of Critical Response Command received at least two weeks of training in the last few months, though like all officers have gone through general counterterrorism preparations.
Their first job as a complete unit is expected to be New Year's Eve, when roughly 1 million people congregate at Times Square's ball drop alone.
The Critical Response Command is the second new unit launched by Bratton in the last year. The Strategic Response Group, which will eventually grow to 800 officers, will also have access to similar vehicles and weaponry so as to boost the department's response to terrorist threats and attacks.
However, as Metro New York previously reported, Bratton previously said the SRG unit will largely be deployed as crowd control for protests and demonstrations.
"Protecting New York City is a daunting task and an awesome responsibility," NYPD Counterterrorism Chief James Waters told the officers.