Saturday, November 19, 2016



(Thursday Nov. 9, 2016 100th St., NYC) Several months ago a group of ranking command Officers from various Units of the New York City Police Department began meeting to discuss the challenges they would undoubtedly face if in fact Manhattan resident Donald J. Trump was elected to the Presidency.  Those nascent strategy and tactical discussions went into high gear yesterday morning as the reality dawned on New York City and the rest of the country.  The NYPD is no stranger to challenges; they have literally written the book(s) not just on modern urban policing but also on the myriad often complicated security issues the City has been confronting particularly in this post 9/11 world.  New York City remains a target rich environment and the top prize on terrorists want lists of locations to strike in our homeland.  They have done so in the past and will continue to attempt to strike if they are able to exploit a vulnerability.  It is no small feat that they have not been able to do so in the 15 years since the World Trade Center attack and that is directly attributable to the efforts of all of the Members of Service (MOS) of the NYPD.  

New York City is without rival when it comes to diversity, disparity and density of population.  It is the world center for banking, finance, entertainment, fashion, and home to all media outlets; a truly international City by virtue of all its prominent institutions from Wall Street to the federal Reserve Bank.  The United Nations is in Manhattan and each member nation/state has at least an embassy, consulate or mission housed here as well.  Some of the larger member nations have several facilities from which they conduct business.  There is no more experienced and able Police Department in the world better suited for the many and varied complex circumstances and eventualities as the NYPD.  Its many specialized Bureaus and Units in many cases are unique for a United States city to have as integral components of their day to day operations.  Some in international and domestic security circles cite the NYPD Intelligence Bureau as comparable, and even superior, to that of some countries.  After the stunning failures of the national intelligence agencies, NYPD would never again leave the security of our City to chance.  It was from the ashes of that catastrophe that the newly reconstituted Intel Bureau was born.

Not since Theodore Roosevelt has a President of the United States been a native New Yorker.  There were five other Presidents born in New York state but Teddy Roosevelt Jr., who was born on October 27, 1858, at East 20th Street in New York City, has been the only President from within the Five Boroughs. That distinction came to a surprising end when the Queens born, Manhattan billionaire real estate mogul, Donald J. Trump rode a wave of populist frustration and won the electoral victory that earned the novice politician the mantle of the President-elect of these United States. In a matter of mere hours his home, the 58 story Trump Tower that glimmers at 725 - 5th Avenue, became of the home of the President-elect.  Never in our history has a President possessed so many opulent residences; residences that present the secret Service with heretofore unseen challenges.  But, as is the simple reality and perhaps a slight to official protocol, the NYPD will be the literal “front line” agency tasked with protecting Trump, his family and Tower whenever he is in New York.


Unlike all his predecessors, Donald Trump’s primary place of residence as well as all of the other locations he owns and frequents, are not easy to secure and protect, to say the least.  President George H.W. Bush would vacation at his family coastal enclave at Kennebunkport, Maine while his son, George W. Bush spent his vacations playing cowboy and chopping wood on his ranch in Crawford, Texas.  Each of these locations where isolated sufficiently that the Secret Service was able to maintain a secure perimeter on all fronts.  President Reagan had a ranch in California almost as isolated at Crawford and president Jimmy Carter would retire to his peanut farm in Plains, Georgia when he wanted to escape the pressures of his job and Washington, DC.  All of Trump’s properties present as very complex security challenges that will require some creative thinking to augment the standard dynamics of Presidential protection.


The White House sits on an 18-acre plot of land that, together with the Ellipse to the south (52 acres total), is called "President's Park."  Centrally located on Pennsylvania Avenue, the surrounding acres provide a well-defined security perimeter.  Since 9/11 the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue fronting the White House has been closed to vehicular traffic and has been lined with concrete fortifications designed to thwart a frontal attack via car or truck bomb.  The airspace above the White House and an adjacent area are considered “restricted”.  The Secret Service has anti-aircraft missiles on the roof of the White House and other military security hardware of both a defensive and offensive nature.  The details of the protective equipment remain highly classified but, suffice to say, it is “robust” according to a retired Secret Service Official who spoke not for attribution.

Conversely, the Trump Tower in Midtown is squarely in one of the most heavily trafficked of airspaces in the country.  Three metro area airports operate within a 10-mile radius of Trump Tower with many other smaller airports as well as non-fixed wing aircraft – helicopter – bases.  How to secure a finite segment of the airspace over Midtown without seriously impacting airline operations remains to be seen. 

As most New Yorkers are well aware there is a vast subterranean critical infrastructure network beneath the streets of our City.  This poses another question in just how to secure Trump Tower from all angles.  The surface component of this puzzle is a bit easier to plan and implement but it still is a “work in progress” according to an NYPD ESU ranking Officer.  Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare for car, bus and pedestrian traffic.  The feasibility of diverting this volume of people in transit is highly suspect but, there will be some measures taken perhaps to limit such activity when President Trump is in town. 

Other aspects of Trump Tower will also be affected.  There is a large open access public atrium with shops and eateries housed within.  It is a prime destination for tourists and since Trump began his quixotic quest for the Presidency last year, it has seen an ever growing number of visitors.  Recently it has also attracted more than its fair share of protestors, belligerents, loonies, oddballs, among others.


The NYPD and Secret Service are going to need to learn the steps of a new waltz very quickly.  The NYPD is naturally protective of its “turf”, and rightfully so.  They are as intimate with every aspect and facet of our people, streets, neighborhoods and possesses the most astute and proven tactics, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices possible to handle any and every potential and reality that can occur within our City limits.  Just as when the United Nations gathers for the annual General Assembly and each member state arrives in NYC with their own security personnel and the State Department provides an additional layer of protection, matters of jurisdiction and “protocol” are dealt with. Coordinating security details and duties have been worked out over the years.  Still, in every way that really matters, the NYPD is in charge, the UN just happens to be in their bailiwick and they never concede responsibility for what transpires within our Five Boroughs no matter the event.

That said, President Trump as a New Yorker will require a level of cooperation and coordination between the NYPD and Secret Service on levels not previously necessary.  Some creative thinking is already being undertaken among the Commands of the Intelligence Bureau, Counterterrorism Units, Emergency Services Unit (ESU), as well as all the other Commands.  NYPD has a vast array of capabilities and daily protects our City not just on the streets and down in the subways but overhead buy the Aviation Unit and in our surrounding waters by the Harbor Unit.  Substantial “show of force” details can be dispatched to any location in the City in a matter of minutes when necessary or simply just to “remind” everyone, friend or foe alike, that we are there.


If the widespread acrimony and anger in the aftermath of Trump’s victory is any indication, he will likely be a challenge to physically protect from would-be assassins.  Other Presidents faced high threat levels but none seem to have engendered the post-election vitriol and protestations as has president-elect Trump.  It is true that most of the most visible agitators and demonstrators are nothing more than immature, spoiled, entitled, youngsters who do not really present as a serious threat to Trump’s safety.  However, there are other forces of a darker intent and the Secret Service has been voicing their concerns internally and with the NYPD for many months.  Now that Trump is the President-elect, their concerns have only multiplied. 


If the Trump Tower were the only security headache for the Secret Service, they could marshal their efforts and forces concentrating on this one site.  But Trump owns properties all over the country and has licensed his name to other properties the world over.  Clearly anything bearing the Trump name will be an attractive target for terrorists.  Among his vacation and resort residences in Bedminster, New Jersey and Palm Beach, Florida, to name two, all are vast properties in scale and scope and will require the curtailing of Trump’s usual vacation habits for the duration of his Presidency.  Clearly the Secret Service and local Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) cannot be expected to spend valuable resources on far-flung sites Trump is accustomed to frequent.  He will have to settle for the more conventional Presidential retreat at Camp David which is as secure a site as is the White House itself; perhaps, due to its isolation, more so.

The bottom line is that while each President faces untold threats and risks as they live and travel throughout their term in Office, President-elect Trump is in a category all his own but all can be comfortable in the knowledge that the premier Law Enforcement Agency in the world protects and defends the City the next President calls home.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2016 © All Rights Reserved
Copyright Brooding Cynyc 2016 © All Rights Reserved

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