In an abandoned old warehouse by the port of Bayonne, tactical cops are girding for battle against an unseen threat. An active shooter has gunned down one of their own – now critically wounded and trapped in an unmarked car.
The scene is anything but secure, but using an armored truck they shove aside cars like toys, toss out flash bang grenades and smoke bombs for cover. They make the grab, and retreat.
“Your adrenaline goes up, you get focused, and you want to help that person as effectively as you can. The feeling is no other feeling,” says Port Authority Police Department Officer Maurizo Gadaleta.
Eyewitness News got an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look as the Port Authority Police Department’s emergency services unit drilled on scenario after scenario using a bearcat. A bearcat is basically a pickup truck converted to a tank. Rick Munnelly is the unit lieutenant.
“We have explosive gas and radiological deduction – we have supplied breathing air, but so that all the team members are not compromised,” Munnelly says.
New York may be the world’s biggest magnet for terrorists, but in New York, most of the biggest targets are Port Authority properties, and so PAPD must be everywhere at every minute. After the attack at the airport in Istanbul, they deployed their bearcats to the airports, and they are never far away.
The Port Authority will not say how many of the vehicles they have across the area, it’s classified, but they have a lot of facilities. Between the airports and the bus terminal and the bridges, they say they can get one of those to any job in minutes.
Last summer, the unit responded to JFK within minutes, after people thought they had heard shots and stampeded. In the end there were no shooters, but it provided valuable real-world training, and in this business, training is everything.
“They’re called perishable skills – you’ll never forget the fundamentals of the training, but it is good to reinforce it,” Munnelly adds.
They hope these scenarios will never come true, but something will and the responders say they are ready.