NYPD boats provide New York City with an additional line of defense against terrorism and dirty bombs

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) — Every New Yorker sees uniformed NYPD officers on the streets of our city every day. But they do much more to keep people safe, including checking incoming ships for potential dangers such as radioactive material that could be used to make a dirty bomb.

The boat officers patrolling New York Harbor may look like any old police boat, but when it comes to protecting freedom, what you can’t see is what matters most.

“This boat here is equipped with sensors on both sides of the boat – radiation sensors,” said Lt. Patrick Golden of the NYPD Counterterrorism Maritime Division.

The built-in sensors warn NYPD Counterterrorism of radioactive material that could be smuggled in through the port.

“We have four cargo ports through which all types of materials are shipped daily,” said Sgt. Thomas Denicker of the NYPD Counterterrorism Maritime Division.

Eyewitness News reporter Anthony Carlo toured one of three police boats searching container ships for materials used to make a dirty bomb. It is the first line of defense against another terrorist attack.

“We have seen in the past that terrorist groups have attempted to obtain nuclear weapons or their components in order to build a dirty bomb that could cause extreme devastation to this city,” Golden said.

From the sonar on deck to the sensors inside, the technology is critical to preventing terrorists from using conventional explosives to spread radiation.

“Basically, this gives us our underwater view,” Denicker said.

But the officers atop the boat provide an extra layer of defense, doing something even those detectors can’t.

“Our team looked at the incoming ships every morning,” Golden said. “Where are you from? Do you come from a conflict region? And these ships would be subject to special scrutiny.”

It’s just another day in the office of the only local Marine law enforcement unit dedicated exclusively to counterterrorism.

“We’re here every day so that people in New York don’t have to worry about this as much as we do,” Denicker said.


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Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a Nytimas U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined Nytimas in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: russellfalcon@nytimas.com.

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