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NYPD Permanently Assigns 350 Officers to Patrol the City with Machine Guns (UPDATED)

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton mentions protests as a reason to assign more police using automatic weapons.

At a recent Police Foundation event in New York City, police commissioner Bill Bratton announced plans to permanently assign 350 police officers to patrol the city while armed with machine guns and rifles, while searching for “possible terrorist attacks.”

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“They’ll be equipped with all the extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these instances,” said Bratton.

The new measures will kick off in two Manhattan precincts and two in Queens. The idea is that the new patrol would be able to fill in around town, aiding with work on crime scenes, as well was helping with crowd control and events, thus freeing up local officers to focus on their assigned neighborhoods.

Bratton says the militarized police unit is necessary, and offered up “our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris” as examples during which he believes “high-tech anti-terror” weapons would be necessary.

A militarized police force is disturbing, but to compare the Charlie Hebdo massacre to peaceful protests for racial equality is a new level of wrong.

UPDATE: When asked about the commissioner’s comments on “machine guns” at protests, a spokesperson for the NYPD told The Intercept: “No. They’re not carrying them at protests,” adding that in general the newly formed Strategic Response Group would have the weapons “either on them or in their vehicles.”