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NYPD commissioner questions mayoral candidates' counterterrorism plans

By Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
updated 10:28 AM EDT, Tue September 10, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ray Kelly: Candidates haven't met with him about plans for fighting terror in New York City
  • Bill de Blasio sought a counterterrorism briefing on August 29, a spokesman says
  • Campaign site: Bill Thompson aims to protect roads, bridges and tunnels from terrorism
  • Christine Quinn has briefings "regularly with the NYPD," her spokesman says

New York (CNN) -- On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is questioning why none of the city's mayoral candidates has requested a briefing from the NYPD about its counterterrorism program, strategies or tactics.

He told an audience that even though the threat of terror in New York City is as substantial as ever, mayoral candidates have yet to meet with him about their plans for fighting terrorism in America's largest city.

"The threat of terrorism is as great, if not greater, today than it was before the World Trade Center was destroyed," Kelly said Monday, speaking in front of the Association for a Better New York and Council on Foreign Relations.

"Yet I can tell you that none of the candidates has requested a briefing from the Police Department on this topic. I believe the public has a right to ask them some important questions."

Kelly noted that in the past 10 months, at least five terror plots against New York City were foiled, including the potential attack by the Boston bombing brothers had they not been captured.

"What is their understanding of the terrorist threat to New York City and its immediacy? What is their perspective on the role the NYPD should play in protecting New York from global terrorism? Will they expend their political capital and continue to fight in Washington, D.C., for the federal funds we need to maintain our defenses?" Kelly asked.

The city's primary election for mayor is taking place Tuesday.

A spokesman for Bill de Blasio, the mayoral front-runner garnering 39% of Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Monday, told CNN that de Blasio requested a counterterrorism briefing on August 29.

"Bill de Blasio believes there is nothing more important than protecting New York City from the threat of terror and keeping New Yorkers safe. After the President's remarks on Syria, the office requested a briefing from the NYPD on the city's counter-terror efforts and is working with City Hall to schedule it," Wiley Norvell, press secretary for de Blasio, told CNN on Monday.

Bill Thompson, who is receiving 25% of the Democratic vote, according to the poll, did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

On his campaign website, Thompson says he plans to enhance and establish security measures to protect roads, bridges and tunnels from terror. Specifically, the plans include strategies from "keeping token-booth operators in the stations" to "speeding up the installation of cameras and motion detectors on platforms."

Christine Quinn addresses counterterrorism in her platform for mayor. According to the Quinnipiac poll, Quinn has 18% of the vote among Democrats.

"Christine Quinn is the speaker of the City Council, and as part of her day-to-day job helping run this city, she has conversations and briefings regularly with the NYPD on everything from crime to counterterrorism," Mike Morey, a spokesman for Quinn, said Monday. "In the course of this campaign, she has been advised by and consulted with numerous officials in the NYPD and with anti-terrorism experts because she knows the single most important responsibility for the mayor of New York is keeping the public safe."

Quinn has called for more city employees to be trained in counterterrorism tactics, including sanitation and transit workers, making them a bigger part of the surveillance program.

She also proposed a review of New York City infrastructure that could be vulnerable to terror attacks, including metal trash cans, and said the New York City Police Department should be more closely engaged with universities to design curricula to "fight crimes of the future."

In his speech, Kelly emphasized the public's responsibility to inquire about the future of New York City's safety and push beyond complacency.

"The public should demand detailed answers from the candidates about their plans to protect New York. We've come too far and we've sacrificed too much to leave ourselves vulnerable."

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