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Elite cops flood tubes

New York Daily News | August 20 2004

Hundreds of detectives in the NYPD's elite specialized units are being ordered to put aside cases and ride the rails as extra security as early as this weekend, the Daily News has learned.

Narcotics, vice, gang and organized crime investigators will join hundreds of transit and patrol cops on the subways - creating a formidable underground police force to combat terror threats leading up to and during the Republican National Convention, sources said.

A directive, handed down by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Wednesday night, requires many of the detectives to don uniforms, although some will remain in plainclothes, police sources said.

"It's going to be massive," said a Brooklyn detective. "They want a uniformed cop on every train."

Most detectives will move underground Monday afternoon but some will begin as soon as this weekend, sources said.

The extra manpower will remain in place until President Bush and other Republican honchos leave town.

"We're shutting down our cases for the next two weeks," said a narcotics detective. "We have no choice."

Yesterday, Kelly said the operation is part of the city's larger anti-terror plan. He insisted that no specific threat against the subway system prompted the pending reassignments.

"It's all part of our comprehensive approach," Kelly said.

"We have a generalized concern about the transit system in light of what happened overseas," he added, referring to the bombings of four commuter trains in Spain days before that country's presidential election.

Kelly sent cops to Madrid hours after the terrorist bombs killed 191 people in March.

The intelligence led the NYPD to make several adjustments in how it safeguards the city's subways, and in April, Kelly revealed that uniformed and plainclothes cops, along with bomb-sniffing dogs, would check every train before it entered Penn Station during the convention.

Until Wednesday's "enhancement" directive it was not clear where the manpower needed to protect the vast subway system and keep Penn Station open would come from.

Two thousand subway trains roll through Penn Station each weekday. Amtrak, NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road bring about 865 passenger trains into the hub daily, and another 142 trains without passengers use the station daily.

NYPD and MTA officials also have said additional cops will be on commuter trains along with New York, New Jersey and Connecticut state police.

Finest get RNC-ready

They stood shoulder to shoulder - a wall of cops decked out in riot gear bracing for the worst. Angry protesters spit venom at them and pushed up hard against the barrier of blue. But the officers stood their ground and kept their cool.

That training scenario yesterday at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn could become reality when the Republican National Convention arrives at the end of the month, so the NYPD wants to make sure it's ready.

One exercise involved a Ryder truck carrying explosives. A bomb dog sniffed out the threat and the "terrorists" in the truck were corralled at the point of high-powered rifles. A commanding officer directed "protesters" blocking traffic and numerous devices were tested, including radiation detectors, noise amplifiers and mechanical barriers.

"We have a lot invested in this event. We have spent a lot of time and a lot of money on training," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who watched the exercises.

"We can't predict what is going to happen, but are adequately prepared. We have a disciplined force."