According to de Blasio’s Police Commissioner, William Bratton, the new force will be “designed for dealing with events like our recent protests [against police brutality] or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”The unit will be “equipped and trained in ways our normal patrol officers are not,” said Bratton in a speech to the Police Foundation last week. They will have “extra protective gear, the long rifles, machine guns, as is unfortunately necessary sometimes in these instances.”Bratton’s spokesman tried to claim after his speech that the unit was not directed against protests, but little attempt was made to explain why, in that case, the commissioner had specifically insisted, “The officers will have the dedicated mission of protecting locations (and) being able to assist us in dealing with demonstrations.” He added that the new unit would be used for “disorder control.”Bratton, a highly-connected police official with decades of experience including a stint in New York itself two decades ago, is not losing his way with words. He meant what he said, even if he now wants to reformulate the policy in the wake of a public backlash.The commissioner attempted to camouflage the new step toward militarization of the NYPD by combining it with a proposal to increase the number of officers in local precincts, where they will “have a chance to really have time to build relationships, to work on the problems in these distressed neighborhoods.”
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