Review “NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division,

Please respond to the following:

Review “NYPD’s Counterterrorism Division,” in Chapter 9 of Managing the Public Sector.

  • Dickey is sharply critical of “the dangerously ill-conceived, mismanaged, and highly militarized global war on terror” and sees the success of the NYPD’s counterterrorism program as offering an alternative approach. Recommend 1–2 actions you would take to implement a different plan from Dickey and/or Kelly.

Review “Problems and Applications,” in Chapter 9 of Managing the Public Sector, and respond to Scenario 2 about smuggling drugs.

  • Assume that you are on Commissioner Lane’s team. Recommend 1–2 alternatives to the plan described, and explain how you will evaluate the success of each recommendation.


    Unless objectives are converted into action, they are not objectives; they are


    Peter F. Drucker

    In November 2001, weeks after Al Qaeda had successfully attacked New York City for the second time, newly appointed police commissioner Ray

    Kelly decided that NYPD would fight its own war against terrorism. The

    federal government had provided for the city’s protection in 1993 when the

    group later known as Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center, and the feds

    were also responsible when two planes devastated the Twin Towers. The time

    had come, Kelly believed, to make New York’s first line of defense the NYPD

    rather than the U.S. military or what cops call the “three letter guys”—the CIA,

    DHS, FBI, CIA, and NSA.

    Specifically, Kelly took three bold actions: establish a counterterrorism

    division; dramatically expand the intelligence division (which had been

    essentially an escort service for visiting dignitaries) and hire a former senior

    CIA official, David Cohen, to run it; and increase the number of cops working

    with the FBI on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. But listing these three actions

    does not convey the enormity of the challenge Kelly faced. According to

    Cohen, in the early days of the Kelly regime, everything was intense and

    anything seemed possible. “It was like putting tires on a speeding car,” Cohen


    Although NYPD might have 50,000 employees and a budget of nearly $4

    billion, Kelly was essentially trying to transform a local police department into

    an organization that could compete on an international scale. If they were to

    make New York City safe again, Kelly and Cohen thought they needed to build

    something different from the federal agencies; that meant an organization with

    minimum bureaucracy and maximum flexibility. The result was basically a

    combination of crime fighting and intelligence gathering, a hybrid approach

    that has since become known as “intelligence-led policing.” Journalist

    Christopher Dickey explains, “The aim should be to gather information and

    intelligence, identify risk, and then manage the risks by intervening selectively



    to protect against the threat. Sometimes that means detaining a suspect, but use

    of information and intimidation to disrupt potential plots may be even more

    effective. Sometimes, all that’s required is to make a target harder to hit, or to

    put on a show that makes it seem so.”

    Plans to do this type of policing were developed in morning meetings that

    Kelly held with the heads of the intelligence division and counterterrorism

    division every day at eight o’clock sharp. Because Kelly never missed a

    morning, Cohen never missed a meeting. From those meetings, Cohen said,

    “We created the playbook.”

    Why would a city need its own CIA? Some would say New York City had

    no choice. Terrorists are obsessed with New York City, focusing on it, Dickey

    writes, “like a compass needle quivering toward magnetic north.” Consider

    this. The 1998 remake of Godzilla, starring Matthew Broderick, was largely

    rejected by American audiences, but Al Qaeda sympathizers abroad loved it.

    The scenes of Godzilla stomping across New York City, crushing everything

    in its path, were mesmerizing and inspiring. One captured terrorist leader

    warned of an attack against “the bridge in the Godzilla movie.” Interrogators

    had to rent the film to find out what he meant: the Brooklyn Bridge.

    Moreover, organizations like the FBI and the CIA didn’t always share vital

    information. Therefore, NYPD began to get its intelligence its own way,

    posting cops with their counterparts in London, Paris, Amman, Montreal,

    Santo Domingo, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and other foreign cities. Once the

    division began to gather important information on its own, it could deal with

    the FBI and CIA from a position of strength. “There is no such thing as

    information sharing,” said Cohen. “There is only information trading.”

    Language was the key. NYPD could not run informers in immigrant

    communities, much less undercover cops, if it didn’t have personnel who spoke

    the dialects. NYPD could not have the Cyber Intelligence Unit successfully

    patrol chat rooms if it didn’t have personnel who could talk about the same

    street corners and schools that others in the chat room knew. A record search

    showed that about 2500 department employees spoke a foreign language. The

    department’s Chinese speakers can converse in Fukienese as well as Mandarin;

    its Spanish linguists talk with Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran, Puerto

    Rican, or Dominican accents. NYPD officers speak Russian, French, German,

    Farsi, Dari, and Pashto, too. In contrast, because of strict security clearance



    procedures, the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. military, and the U.S. State Department

    are weak in linguists.

    Though language is hugely important in eliciting intelligence, the Counter

    Terrorism Division had other operations designed to prevent future attacks. For


    OPERATION HERCULES. Every day, officers of different precincts

    go to a location that was chosen at random to provide a show of force to

    deter anyone out there who might be planning an attack. The heavily

    armed “Hercules team” also moves around the city at random protecting

    high-value targets and infrastructure and disrupting operational planning

    details of terrorists. The reason for this theatricality is that cops “have to

    make themselves seem all-powerful and all knowing.”

    OPERATION NEXUS. The NYPD also involves business in

    counterterrorism. A program called Operation Nexus, begun in 2002,

    networked police officers “with businesses that might be exploited by

    terrorists. Companies that sold chemicals like hydrogen peroxide or

    nitrate fertilizers, the stuff of homemade bombs, needed to have their

    consciousness raised. But so did self-storage warehouses (where

    components and chemicals might be hidden), exterminators (poisons and

    sprayers), propane gas vendors (the canisters can serve as ready-made

    explosives), cell phone vendors (mobiles work as timers and triggers). …

    some 80 different categories of businesses were deemed of interest to the


    OPERATION KABOOM. Inside the windowless Counterterrorism

    Bureau headquarters, the Special Projects Group, or “red cell,” plots

    terrorist attacks. The idea is to take several cops who have no particular

    experience with explosives and see what they can pull together from

    information on the Internet and from suppliers within a few hours drive

    of Manhattan. One model they used was the massive bomb detonated by

    the Irish Republican Army at Manchester, England, in June 1996.

    Disturbingly, the team was able to pick up 1200 pounds of ammonium

    nitrate—the same stuff used by the IRA—in Pennsylvania without




    In addition to language skills and various visible and undercover activities,

    the counterterrorism division has the technology to stay one step ahead of the

    enemy. On the ground, thousands of cops wear “personal radiation detectors”

    which are very effective at picking up minute traces of potentially dangerous

    rays. In addition to the city’s 300 square miles of land, there are 165 square

    miles of waterways—any of which would make good entry points for weapons

    of mass distraction. The counterterrorism boats don’t look different from other

    police boats on the water, but the classified technology they carry makes them

    unique. But the most high-tech tools are 1000 feet above the city, giving

    officers on the ground real-time intelligence. Dickey describes his ride one cold

    winter night in an unmarked NYPD helicopter:

    The morning is clear in a way—in that way—that is always a little

    heartbreaking if you were here on September 11, 2001. There were police

    choppers in New York’s sky then, too, but not like this one, which can see so

    much from so far. It is a state-of-the-art crime-fighting, terror-busting, order-

    keeping techno-toy, with its enormous lens that can magnify any scene on the

    street almost 1000 times, then double that digitally; that can watch a crime in

    progress from miles away, can look in windows, and sense the body heat of

    people on rooftops or running along sidewalks, can track beepers slipped under

    cars, can do so many things that the man in the helmet watching the screens

    and moving the images with the joystick in his lap . . . is often a little bit at loss

    for words. “It really is an amazing tool,” he keeps saying. On the left-hand

    screen is a map of Manhattan. He punches in an address on the Upper East

    Side, my address. The camera on the belly of the machines swerves

    instantaneously, focuses, and there on the second screen is my building scene

    from more than a mile away now, but up close and personal from this

    surprising astral angle. The cameras and sensors are locked onto it, staying

    with it as the chopper turns and homes in.

    Assess how well the NYPD has converted its objectives into actions. What

    actions besides those mentioned in the case would you recommend? What are

    the limitations or weaknesses in NYPD’s approach? Dickey is sharply critical

    of “the dangerously ill-conceived, mismanaged, and highly militarized global

    war on terror,” and sees the success of the NYPD’s counterterrorism program

    as offering an alternative approach. Do you agree or disagree?

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