D.C.'s police chief is encouraging the public to be observant, and notify law enforcement if they see any peculiar or suspicious behavior, in the wake of the New York City terror attack that killed at least eight people.
WASHINGTON — D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said Wednesday morning that the act of terror in New York City Tuesday that killed eight people “is really a reminder to all of us.”
Newsham said in the wake of the New York City attack that the public must play a major role in community safety.
“We are all Americans,” Newsham said later Wednesday in an interview at the WTOP studios; “we all have a responsibility to protect this country. So vigilance is a part of our new world. We’ve gotta be vigilant out there.”
Newsham added that a truck attack on a bike path, such as happened Tuesday in New York, is difficult to stop any other way: “We do take measures when we have large gatherings in our community, but … this was a bike path. We have bike paths; we have gatherings of people, soft targets, on any given day. So I go back to my earlier point: It’s about vigilance.”
He said that in similar terror attacks, it often comes out that the perpetrator gave some kind of signal, either in person or on social media, that his act was a possibility. “There usually is some kind of a sign in hindsight that we can see,” he said, adding that that’s why it’s all the more important to keep an eye open.
“We all have to get off to work in the morning,” Newsham said; “we have to get our kids off to school. … We’re thinking about our daily lives, and we’re not thinking about those things that could impact us.”
In a news release Tuesday, the D.C. police said they are “actively working in coordination with our local and federal law enforcement partners, as well as homeland security agencies to ensure the safety of all visitors and residents of the District of Columbia.”
Newsham would not address the specific homeland security actions being taken, but said security is heightened.
In a statement, U.S. Park Police say they’ll maintain a “robust patrol presence.”
“We will continue to monitor our areas of responsibility and produce the best security footprint with the most current information. In order to protect the integrity of our operations, we are not able to comment about staffing levels and security techniques. We do collaborate with our agency partners, to include the MPD, to ensure the safety of all park visitors and community members.”
The response came after a man in a rented pickup truck drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and mowed down people, killing eight and injuring 11. Police shot the gunman, who was taken into custody.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called the attack a “cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.” Newsham said authorities in New York have been “incredibly great” about sharing information with his department.
Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted that she has been in contact with Newsham and says they are “keeping a close eye on the situation here in the District.”
“Our thoughts are with the people of New York and the families of the victims as they deal with this tragic incident,” police said in the release.
WTOP’s Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.
Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.