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New mayor of New York City to inherit massive counter-terrorism force

NEW YORK -- At a recent briefing in lower Manhattan, the New York Police Department gave an auditorium full of private security executives plenty to worry about.

One of the NYPD's intelligence analysts warned that some New Yorkers have gone to fight in the Syrian civil war and could come back radicalized against the West. A high-ranking officer described drills testing the NYPD's ability to respond to a dirty radioactive bomb attack. And a detective offered a detailed analysis of the deadly siege at a shopping mall in Nairobi, brashly challenging the Kenyan government's claim that the gunmen were dead.

The presentations demonstrated the nation's largest police department's determination to stay at the forefront of counterterrorism, even as the man who spearheaded the effort — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly — is headed out the door.

Kelly, whose 12-year tenure ends this month without a major successful terror attack on his watch, repeatedly has suggested that anyone considering remaking one of the defining initiatives of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration should proceed with caution.

New York “remains squarely in the crosshairs of terrorists,” Kelly said in his final appearance at the recurring briefings. “We must do everything in our power to defend it.”

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and his designated police commissioner, William Bratton, plan to take a hard look at a counterterrorism operation that grew to lengths never imagined before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

With the staunch support of Bloomberg, Kelly reassigned about 1,000 of the city's roughly 35,000 officers to counterterrorism duty, posted detectives overseas to report on how other cities deal with terrorism and spent tens of millions of dollars each year to outfit the department with the latest technology, including a network of security cameras and command centers, to track suspicious activity. Kelly also put the NYPD's Intelligence Division under the direction of a former CIA official and directed it to analyze and detect overseas and homegrown threats.

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