NEW YORK — How safe New Yorkers are is an issue brought once again into the spotlight by the terrorist bombings in Brussels.
A random, unscientific survey of New Yorkers indicated that overall, people here feel secure from a terror attack, but analysis by some of the country’s most prominent anti-terror experts show how New Yorkers could be safer still.
“We have the intelligence, the authority” and at least 1,000 full-time, dedicated anti-terror officers, as well as the 33,000 other officers of the NYPD, said Robert Strang, CEO of Investigative Management Group, and former director of New York state’s 9/11 anti-terror task force.
“Can we turn up those resources now? Yes,” Strang said in an interview, but he added that those law enforcement resources are always at the ready.
Strang agreed with Manny Gomez, former NYPD sergeant, FBI agent and Marine, who is now CEO of MG Security Services. Gomez is also a native New Yorker.
“We know when someone’s just being goofy and when someone’s just not right,” Gomez told PIX11 News. “Bring it to the attention of a cop. Call 911.”
While that is important and helpful, said Juval Aviv, founder and CEO of the Interfor Security Agency, that kind of action has to be more strongly emphasized.
“Educating the public on what to look for and what to do about it,” said Aviv, “we’re not doing enough of it in this country.”
Aviv was also the subject of Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich, about how Aviv helped take out terrorists who’d kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
As coincidence would have it, Aviv was at the Brussels Airport Monday night, hours before the bombing.
“It was, ‘Oh my God,'” he said in an interview. “There’s no security, no real security.”
He had been in Brussels Friday when police there arrested accused Paris attacker Salah Abdelslam.
“I had a feeling,” Aviv said, “by catching him, it would trigger the rest of the gang to go out quickly and do something.”
His hunch, sadly, was right, thanks to a half century of expertise. But Aviv said that the Brussels attacks can be a helpful, vital reminder of ways to better protect oneself.
“Break your routine,” Aviv advised, particularly during commuting times. “If you can avoid being there during rush hour, you have a better chance to stay alive.”
“We need the eyes and ears of the public,” he continued. “We are training the public to react quickly.”
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