Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Thursday a new unit of 350 police officers will respond to terror threats — and protesters.
“It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai and what just happened in Paris,” said Bratton, speaking a police foundation breakfast on Thursday.
Called the “Strategic Response Group,” the officers will wear heavy protective gear and carry long rifles or machine guns, as well as tablets and other technology to keep them connected to quickly-changing circumstances.
Bratton is also increasing the number of police officers patrolling local precincts to beef up community policing, and plans to pull officers off of specialty beats.
“They never have a chance to really have time to build relationships, to work on the problems in these distressed neighborhoods,” Bratton said, according to Capital New York. “They’re indentured to the radio, running from call to call, in a department that does not have enough police officers often times, and not enough cars out there to handle all the calls as they continue to come in.”
The program will start in two precincts in Manhattan and Queens, Bratton said.
An increase in community policing has been a key demand of protesters in the Eric Garner and Black Lives Matter protests.
All NYPD officers will also receive two days of firearm training and three days of skills training, Bratton said.