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Security Remains Tight Across Tri-State Area In Wake Of Paris Attacks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Security remains tight at locations across the Tri-State area in the wake of the attacks in Paris that left 129 dead.

The NYPD has beefed up security and staffing, including at the French consulate, France's mission to the United Nations and Times Square.

Security checks were taking place at various New York City bridges, and on Monday night, Lincoln Center -- one of the country's most cherished cultural institutions -- was being guarded by the NYPD's Strategic Response Group because it is a target for terrorists, CBS2's Matt Kozar reported.

Bridge Security Checks
Security checks were set up along NYC bridges on Nov. 16, 2015 after the terror attacks in Paris. (credit: Jessica Schneider/CBS2)

Heavily armed supercops known as Hercules teams patrolled the plaza at Lincoln Center in a show of force that was happening at hard and soft targets around the city.

NYPD Hercules Teams, Lincoln Center
NYPD Hercules teams at Lincoln Center on Monday, Nov. 16, in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. (Credit: CBS2)

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that his department is operating as though attacks like those in Paris could happen in New York City, which remains among the world's top terror targets.

"We work every day based on the premise that they have that capability and what we just saw in Paris, why do we think that would not happen here," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe.''

But calling New York City "the safest big city in America," Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD "is by far the most advanced force for addressing these issues."

"I think it's quite clear that people know when they come to a big event here, there will be a tremendous NYPD presence and tremendous preparation," he said.

Meanwhile Monday, the NYPD unveiled a new elite counterterrorism squad, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported. Officials say the officers have received elite training in what amounts to armed warfare against any terrorist who would try to hit New York City.

WEB EXTRAS: Attacks Timeline | Photos | Videos | CBSN Continuing Coverage

"You're now part of the front line of this city's defense against terrorism," de Blasio said.

By the end of the year, there will be 560 members in the unit. The unit will be up and running by New Years Eve, which will be their first real test.

The new squad is in addition to the nearly 1,400 emergency service and strategic response cops already protecting the city.

The events in Paris have changed the NYPD's strategy in fighting attackers. Cops will not negotiate with terrorists who take hostages. They'll simply try to kill them as fast as possible.

"These people, if they take hostages, it's only to prolong the event because they intend to kill them," Bratton said. "So we operate on the assumption, if we have one of these attacks, their intention is to kill everybody that they get their hands on. So we will move very quickly to move in to stop that threat."

Bratton said the squad can also respond to nearly two dozen events at the same time.                    

Port Authority police officers have increased patrols at the Hudson River crossings, metropolitan airports and ports. Officers also will be checking bags, buses, trucks and trains.

There will also be random bag checks aboard Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains, 1010 WINS Glenn Schuck reported.

Ayana Miller takes Metro-North to Grand Central Terminal for work daily and admits the events in Paris make her nervous about the possibility of an attack here at home.

"New York City is always going to be a target," she told CBS2's Janelle Burrell. "Anyone can easily get on or off a train. I don't want to say that and give someone an idea, but that's the truth -- someone can easily get on any stop."

At Grand Central on Monday morning, unmarked MTA police cars could be seen by one of the main entrances, while inside police with K-9 units and soldiers were standing guard.

While some commuters say that level of security is typical at Grand Central during rush hour, others say the bigger change Monday was on their ride into the city.                                                                

"I just came in from a train from Bronxville. It stopped at 125th Street, and there were at least eight to 10 cops on the platform," said Janet Materi, of Yonkers. "I definitely see an increase, and it feels good to have them around."

Alexandre Gutman studied abroad in France.

"When I'm in Paris, I do hang out in the places that were shot up. I'm definitely pretty shocked and alarmed by it," he said, "I have confidence in the security forces that are here. I think they're doing a really good job making sure that people feel safe. Their presence is felt."

Officials on Long Island are also increasing police patrols at shopping malls, sporting events and other large public gatherings.

Acting Nassau County police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said his department works closely with the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force.

He said although there are no known "credible threats'' the department's intelligence unit monitors developments "24 hours a day.''

He did not offer specifics on the numbers of additional patrols, or officers. Krumpter, talking to reporters while standing near two military-style trucks, said the added patrols were likely through the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano wants residents to do their part, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"If you see something that looks out of the ordinary, if you see an abandoned package, please call 911," he said.

But while there may be thousands of well-armed security personnel at the ready, intelligence is essential to protect the type of "soft'' targets attacked in Paris, Bratton said.

"In New York City, we're always on the offense in terms of our intelligence gathering capabilities,'' Bratton said, speaking Sunday on ABC's "This Week.''

Restaurants and entertainment venues are especially vulnerable because they cannot be constantly protected. Authorities must pick up clues of impending danger through intelligence.

Bratton said later on CBS's "Face the Nation'' that security at soft targets is going to rely very heavily on "public awareness. ... See something, say something.''

Long Island Rep. Peter King, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, also believes a Paris-style attack could happen here.

"So far, there is no real threat that we can see but again, we are going back over everything of the last several days to see if there was something that was missed leading up to Paris which could be an indication of what's going to happen in the future," King told WCBS 880's Sean Adams.

Bratton called the Paris attacks, for which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility, "a game-changer.''

He said the IS group is adept with the latest technology, using social media and possibly "going dark," meaning communicating plans through encrypted messages that cannot be monitored.

Bratton said he believes such messaging systems will prove to have been "a significant factor'' in planning the Paris attacks.

"I'll be very interested to see what types of phone devices they were carrying, what type of apps might have been on those devices," he said.

On the psychological front, he said, another challenge is that the Paris attackers included suicide bombers.

"Quite obviously intended to come out of this not alive, which is also problematic for us, in the sense, these are people who are going to blow themselves up no matter what,'' he said.

It's a reason why many lawmakers, such as Sen. Charles Schumer and King, say aggressive action needs to be taken.

"Intelligence, reconnaissance, drones, airstrikes are the things that ISIS is most afraid of because we can take out their leaders," Schumer said.

"We have to have, at the very least, observers and spotters on the ground," King said. "We have virtually no intelligence in Syria."

Bratton says an NYPD team will head to Paris this week to bring back lessons that investigators can use in New York. The NYPD is also adding up to 560 more counterterrorism personnel, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reproted.

"Our first obligation, our first reponse is to try and drive the speed of our actions to try and save as many lives as possible -- to basically diminish the threat, which means taking them out before they can kill others," Bratton said.

The first 125 critical response command officers rolled out for duty on Monday, 1010 WINS Al Jones reported.

"By the speed of our actions to save as many lives as possible, which means taking them out before they can kill others," Bratton said.

All police officers will receive active shooter training, he added.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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