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Citywide Operations

Chief Thomas Purtell

Chief of Citywide Operations: Thomas P. Purtell

Citywide Operations was created to enhance the department's coordinated response to major events and incidents that require specifically trained and equipped personnel. The bureau oversees the Special Operations Division, which includes the Emergency Service Unit, the Aviation Unit, the Harbor Unit, and the Mounted Unit. The bureau is also responsible for the Strategic Response Group and the Crisis Outreach and Support Unit.

The department's Special Operations Division (SOD) comprises personnel with highly specialized training, expertise, and equipment to support other NYPD units involved in operations on the ground, below ground in our subways, in the air, and on New York City waterways. Department members receive rigorous training and are often cross-trained in multiple disciplines in order to ensure that officers are prepared for all situations they encounter. Some of the instances that SOD might respond to include: barricaded perpetrators, emotionally disturbed persons, jumpers from city bridges, waterborne incidents, searches of missing individuals or suspects, search warrant executions, air and sea rescues, and public disorder events and major disasters.

Emergency Service Unit (ESU) responds to a wide range of calls for assistance, including people threatening to jump off bridges or buildings, people stuck in elevators, barricaded perpetrators, and hostage situations. ESU supports all department initiatives and provides assistance to every patrol command, as well as Federal and State law enforcement authorities. Because of their knowledge, experience, and reputation for excellence, they are often called upon to assist with emergencies in other jurisdictions, having deployed to Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Louisiana, and the Dominican Republic in recent years. ESU is also part of FEMA's Urban Search and Rescue New York Task Force 1. ESU oversees the following units:

  • Hazmat/Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Canine Team

Aviation Unit is an advanced air-and-sea rescue and law enforcement unit that provides tactical support to police officers on the ground, fast rope deployments, fire suppression, maritime security operations, high-rise and roof-top insertions, and hoist operations, as well as serving as an air ambulance. NYPD helicopter pilots also work with the department's SCUBA divers in conducting water rescues and searches. The Aviation Unit's helicopters respond to calls within a 60-mile radius of New York City, filling a need that arose when the U.S. Coast Guard moved its air operations out of the area.

Harbor Unit members have multiple missions within the Port of New York. Traditional search and rescue duties include incidents of swimmers in distress, disabled boaters, and bridge jumpers. The Harbor Unit also plays a critical role in the city's counterterrorism mission, engaging in proactive initiatives that include daily ferry escorts, waterside facility patrols, and dives by the NYPD SCUBA Team at critical infrastructure locations, such as bridges and sea walls. The unit's operations also include the planning and execution of special events held across the harbor annually. The Harbor Unit oversees the Department's SCUBA Team, which performs search and rescue operations.

Mounted Unit officers are normally assigned to patrol duties, but also play an important public relations role in police and community relations. The Mounted Unit is an effective crime deterrent and often is used for crowd control at demonstrations, protests, concerts, sporting events, and parades throughout the city.

Strategic Response Group responds to citywide mobilizations, civil disorders, and major events with highly trained personnel and specialized equipment. They are also deployed to areas requiring an increased police presence due to increased crime or other conditions. With multiple missions that include disorder response, crime suppression, and crowd control, SRG has proven to be a critical asset during events like parades, protests, and the papal visit. SRG also mobilizes for shootings, bank robberies, missing persons, demonstrations, or other significant incidents.