Law enforcement keeping an eye on Syria amid security concerns at home

Holly Bailey
ray kelly on syria
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New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the department is keeping an eye on the situation in Syria (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Law enforcement officials around the country are keeping a close eye on the threat of U.S. military action in Syria amid the possibility it could spur retaliatory domestic attacks.

In New York, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said there is currently no intelligence indicating the possibility of an attack on the city should the Obama administration launch a strike on Syria.

But the threat of war comes as the New York Police Department already was planning to ramp up its security around the city ahead of the Jewish holidays — including Rosh Hashana, which begins at sundown Sept. 4 — and the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In a meeting with Jewish leaders on Tuesday night, Kelly said the NYPD is constantly monitoring world events, including the action in Syria, and insisted the force will be “as well-prepared as any big police department in the country to respond.”

“We’re always looking over the horizon. We are aware of conditions throughout the world, we have a large police force, and we’re always looking at contingencies, things that may happen,” Kelly said, according to WCBS. “I can only tell you that we will respond, in our judgment, accordingly if something happens overseas. We’ve always been concerned about what happens throughout the world. It’s become much smaller after 9/11.”

Kelly’s comments echoed what other law enforcement agencies around the country were saying amid speculation the United States and its allies could soon strike at the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons against his own people.

In Los Angeles, police officials said the city had recorded “no current threats relative to the Syrian issue.” But Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, told Yahoo News the agency “always pays close attention to overseas activity and its potential impact on Los Angeles.”

“Naturally, we will increase security as necessary and prepare for potential protests and other issues here,” Smith added.

In the aftermath of 9/11, law enforcement officials have long warned Americans to be more vigilant against the possibility of potential attacks on U.S. soil — warning that the homeland has become an increased target, especially among those who oppose the American military role around the world.

Talk of a military strike in Syria comes as Americans prepare for the long Labor Day weekend, a three-day holiday that is one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

It was unclear if transportation security officials were planning any immediate measures of heightened security. An official with the Department of Homeland Security — which, among other things, oversees the nation’s airport security — declined to comment on any specific measures.

“As always, our security posture, which at all times includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an ever-evolving threat picture,” the DHS official, who declined to be named, said.