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Philly law enforcement steps up patrols after NYC terror attack

“We don’t get tired of the tips,” says SEPTA police chief. “We want those calls all the time.”
Increased SEPTA patrols were seen at Suburban Station on Monday after an alleged attempted terrorist attack in nearby New York City. (Sam Newhouse)

An alleged terrorist’s detonation of a pipe bomb under the Port Authority in New York City’s Times Square on Monday morningprompted Philadelphia law enforcement to step up patrols and security across mass transit lines.

“Every police department is concerned that it’s an organized effort, maybe an attack in multiple cities,” said SEPTA police chief Thomas Nestel III at a press conference on Monday, “so we implement a higher visibility posture, and we did that today.”

SEPTA K-9 units and police patrolling on motorized vehicles were seen around SEPTA’s Suburban Station in Center City Monday.

But the attack on New York City appeared as of Monday evening to have been an isolated incident, allegedly perpetrated by Akayed Ullah, 27, a Bangladeshi national, Brooklyn resident and former cab driver. 

Nestel and Philadelphia Police Department Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson assured the public Monday that law enforcement is closely monitoring activity in the city and communicating with national and federal officials to protect Philadelphia. 

“I think we're safe here in Philadelphia,” Wilson said. “We're diligent. We have a lot of people that spend their lives trying to disrupt this type of event.” 

But they also urged the public to continue alerting them about any possible concerns or threats. 

“After an incident like this we always see a spike in the number of calls from people,” Nestel said. “We want those calls all the time. We don't get tired of the tips and the tips are taken seriously.”

Whether it's an unattended bag, citizens accessing sensitive areas of transit facilities or any other suspicious behavior, members of the public are “eyes and ears” for law enforcement, Wilson and Nestel said.

“A family member asked me, ‘What exactly is suspicious?’” Nestel said. “It’s when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, or when you look twice at something and say, ‘That doesn’t look right’—we want to know.” 

To contact Philly police with a tip, call 215-686-TIPS (8477), or text a tip to PPDTIP 773847. 

Contact SEPTA police at (215) 580-8111 or report incidents using the SEPTA Transit Watch app.