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Commissioner Bill Bratton responds to WTC distracted cops video seen on Eyewitness News

Jim Hoffer reports on reaction from the NYPD after his investigation into WTC cops distracted by their cell phones.
May 7, 2014 3:47:18 PM PDT
Five days after we reached out for a response to our investigation, we caught up with the NYPD Commissioner who told us the Department is looking into officers over-use of cell phones at the World Trade Center.

"So the Department will be looking into the compliance to those rules, policies and procedures," said Commissioner Bill Bratton.

The rules are clear, no cell phone use on the job except when authorized. It's fairly clear in our investigation that some officers on duty at the World Trade Center have been spending a lot of time looking at their cell phones instead of observing their surroundings.

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Hoffer: "You don't think this shows a weakness down there?"

Commissioner Bratton: "I don't think there's any weakness down there."

But a counter-terrorism expert who worked for years for the Department of Homeland Security says our investigation shows a serious security problem at a location already hit twice by terrorists.

Prof. Joseph King, Ph.d : "Keep an eye on things, not on the phone," said Professor Joseph King, Ph.d.

Hoffer: Is this a serious security problem?

Prof. King: "It is, it's a serious problem for any Police Department these days, the Trade Center only heightens that up."

From the security booths, to the vans and police cars that make up the ring of security around the World Trade Center, the video shows Counter Terrorism trained officers seemingly more attentive to their phones than to their surroundings.

Hoffer: How are you going to handle the distraction by cell phones, we saw it over and over again?

Commissioner Bratton: "Good for you, we'll look at it see if it is a problem. If it is we'll correct. Thank you for sharing."

Security experts say one way to fix the problem is to rotate the officers more frequently to break up the monotony of fixed-post look outs.

They also say the deterrent effect that comes from high-police presence is lost if what those who are thinking about a strike see officers absorbed in their cell phones.

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