July 14, 2005

New York police to warn public on suicide bombers

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police in New York will board city
buses and subway trains and teach passengers how to recognize
suicide bombers, officials said on Thursday in the wake of the
deadly blasts blamed on such bombers in London.

New York, hardest hit by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has
been spared suicide bomb attacks such as those that plague
daily life in Iraq and have frequently shaken Israel.

The bombings of three subways and a bus in London last
week, which killed at least 53 people, were Britain's first
suicide attacks.

Alerting the public to identify suicide bombers is part of
a broader plan to step up warnings on New York's public
transportation system of possible terror-related activity,
officials said.

The idea of alerting people face-to-face comes after the
New York Police Department got a positive public response when
a city police officer who was searching a bus the day of the
London bombings spoke to commuters about being aware of
suspicious activity, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"It is kind of unique to be on a bus to be able to do
that," Kelly said at a news conference. "In reality, we can't
do it on every bus, but I think we are going to use that where
we can, where it is reasonable to do it."

New York's 37,000-member police force is already on high
alert, working overtime with bomb-sniffing dogs to patrol
subways, buses, ferries and prominent buildings, and the
warnings about suicide bombers will be added to those efforts,
officials said.

"People could be told to look out for bulky clothing in
warmer weather, or people repeatedly returning to a package,"
said Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

The police commissioner said the city is spending about $1
million a day on overtime pay for police due to the added
security concerns since the London bombings.

Democrats, particularly in New York, have criticized the
administration of President Bush over what they see as a lack
of funds for security of the nation's mass transit systems.

New York officials also have long argued that security
funds should be spent on locations at the greatest risk of
attack and noted that rural states such as Wyoming get more
money than New York on a per capita basis.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it would be a
"dereliction of duty" if the U.S. Congress did not direct funds
toward areas at highest risk of attack.

"When you catch a potential terrorist, he doesn't have a
map of a cornfield, he has a map of New York City or a
building," the mayor said.

New York's regional transit agency acknowledged this week
it has been slow to spend more than $600 million budgeted to
protect the system against a potential attack, with only $30
million of that money spent since 2002, according to The new
York Times.

"The easy way out would be to spend the money quickly,
without a thorough analysis of the cost and benefit,"
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Peter Kalikow
told the Times.

Kalikow said a lack of reliable technologies made it
difficult to determine how best to defend the transit network.

"The technology for this kind of stuff is still emerging,"
he told the newspaper.