The NYPD announced that it will add a new unit featuring 350 officers clad in riot gear and armed with machine guns to deal with protests and terrorism, which are apparently one in the same.
According to DNAinfo, Commissioner Bill Bratton revealed the decision on Thursday, noting that the unit should come to fruition within the next six months:
[The unit] is designed to deal with events like our recent protests or incidents like Mumbai, or what just happened in Paris, Bratton said Thursday. It will be equipped and trained in ways that our normal patrol officers are not.
He added that the unit would be suited up with, extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and the machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances.
The obvious issue is that Bratton's lumping events like protests of Eric Garner's death and the Charlie Hebdo attacks into the same category. The move has been met with unsurprising opposition of groups already at odds with the NYPD and its methods. Calling it "[T]he opposite of progress," Priscilla Gonzalez of Communities United for Police Reform denounced the initiative.
"His demands for a more militarized police force that would use counter-terrorism tactics against protesters are deeply misguided and frankly offensive," Gonzalez said. "We need an NYPD that is more accountable to New Yorkers and that stops criminalizing our communities, especially when people are taking to the streets to voice legitimate concerns about discriminatory and abusive policing."
Since Bratton wants to get this off the ground ASAP, he noted that the police department is looking for a few good
soldiers cops who are up for the "challenge."