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N.Y.'s top cop warns terrorists to stay away, quotes Casablanca

September 26, 2011 |  4:49 am

Raymond Kelly,  New York's police commissioner, warned terrorists Sunday night that the city is continuing to ramp up its defense against attack -- and they better steer clear of the Big Apple.

During an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes", Kelly said his 35,000-member force was prepared for any kind of attack and if need be could even shoot down an airplane in what he characterized as an "extreme situation."

CBS' Scott Pelley seemed stunned.

"Do you mean to say that the NYPD has the means to take down an aircraft?" Pelley asked, according to the transcript.

"Yes," said Kelly, adding, "I prefer not to get into the details but obviously this would be in a very extreme situation."

"You have the equipment and the training," Pelley said.

"Yes," Kelly said.

Apparently the NYPD increased its aviation fleet in 2005, adding a fancy helicopter that could fly as high as 3,000 feet and Agusta 119s armed with .50-caliber semiautomatic rifles that could reach boats, planes or big trucks from far away, according to the New York Daily News.

The commissioner, who started as a cadet and rose through the ranks to the top job after Sept. 11,  gave Pelley a tour of the department's extensive ant-terrorism efforts that include a $150-million surveillance system with cameras that blanket particularly lower Manhattan and radiation detectors that ring the city.

As if this wasn't enough, Kelly also twice demonstrated that New York police are quick on the draw with movie history.

He noted that terrorists at one point were overheard talking about attacking "the Godzilla bridge," referring to the name of 1998 film about the Brooklyn Bridge.

"That’s how they characterized the bridge," Kelly said of the moviemakers.

Towards the end of the interview Kelly borrowed a line from Casablanca to send a message to terrorists who might be hatching plots against New York. (Since Sept 11, he said his department uncovered 13 plans to attack New York.)

"If you see the movie 'Casablanca,' and you have Humphrey Bogart talking to Colonel Strasser," Kelly said. "And he says that he would advise the Nazis to think twice about invading certain parts of New York City.

"Well that’s our message. 'Stay away.' "


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-- Geraldine Baum

Photo: Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks at a ceremony last year. Credit: Frank Franklin II /Associated Press