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Cities, states step up patrols for orange alert

New York City names new counterterrorism commissioner

Members of the California Army National Guard watch over the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point on Tuesday.
Members of the California Army National Guard watch over the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point on Tuesday.

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Cities and states step up security in response to the increased terror alert..
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Terror level threat is based on new intelligence.
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The threat status is changed to 'high' amid fears of a plot against U.S. targets.
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U.S. intelligence officials say they believe al Qaeda members are in Iran.
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- In response to the nation's elevated threat alert, police from coast to coast are increasing patrols of sensitive areas such as bridges and tunnels, power plants and train stations for the fourth time since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The national alert level was boosted Tuesday to its second-highest stage because Homeland Security officials said the U.S. intelligence community believes al Qaeda has entered an "operational period worldwide" and might attack within the United States. (Full story)

In response, the Federal Aviation Administration said new flight restrictions would go into effect Wednesday, including limits on overflights of sporting events.

That rule could also apply to this weekend's Indianapolis 500, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

Also, some classes of small airplanes that had gotten waivers to fly in the 15-mile restricted zone around Washington will have to give up those privileges. (Full story)

New York City, which bore the brunt of the September 11 attacks, has remained on high alert since the system was created shortly afterward.

Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the appointment of Mike Sheehan, a former Army Special Forces officer, as deputy commissioner for counterterrorism.

Sheehan will oversee the Counterterrorism Bureau in the Police Department, which has 1,000 officers assigned to help prevent terrorist attacks. Sheehan currently serves as an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, where he is responsible for mission support of UN peacekeeping operations.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said uniformed patrols are being stepped up at crowd-prone places such as subways, though he said the city has received no specific threats.

More plainclothes officers also were being assigned to subways, bridges and other sensitive areas, but Kelly would not say how many.

New York Gov. George Pataki called on the public to help government respond to potential threats by being vigilant and contacting authorities if they see anything out of the ordinary. He said the public would be seeing increased security at power plants and on commuter trains.

In San Francisco, California, police plan to double-check "critical locations" during each shift and closely monitor public events with crowds. Patrols also will conduct spot truck inspections and close certain access roads leading to points underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The Coast Guard said it would watch ships more closely.

Los Angeles Police Department officials said they would activate their local response plan within 24 hours.

"There will not be a noticeable difference in patrol from the public eye, but our intelligence community will increase patrols in high-profile areas and make more direct contact with people there," LAPD spokesman Horace Frank said.

A spokesman for California Gov. Gray Davis' office said the state highway patrol would be on 24-hour patrol of high-profile sites throughout the state.

Some cities keep routine staffing

But police in cities including Houston, Texas, and Detroit, Michigan, said they had not changed any staffing levels, reflecting the reality that many cities have become accustomed to increased security levels and have made their procedures routine.

In Washington, the Capitol Hill Police Department said it was making "minor" upgrades in security, meaning more uniformed officers, K-9 units and SWAT teams would be patrolling the Capitol grounds.

"We don't feel it's absolutely necessary to drastically increase our measures at this time," police spokeswoman Jessica Gissubel said.

Last week, the FBI notified state and local law enforcement agencies that the recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco "may be a prelude to an attack in the United States."

-- CNN producer Rose Arce contributed to this report.

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