Preventing Terrorism via NYPD’s Operation Nexus

By October 18, 2006General

Lt. Christopher S. Higgins and Investigator Renato Silvis of the New York Police Department stopped by Tuesday to brief several of us on “Operation Nexus,” the NYPD’s program to bring business owners and operators into the first line of preventing terrorism.

Trade associations are a major part of their outreach, they explained. And a quick search of Google shows support from good folks like The American Hotel & Lodging Association, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and the Self Storage Association, to cite just a few.

The program’s goal, as Lt. Higgins puts it, is to “sensitize, educate and galvinize” businesses so they recognize and report suspicious incidents.

Officers with Operation Nexus have identified 80 different sort of businesses and establishments, providing them with a list of behavior to watch for. For example, hobby shops should take note when someone purchases an unusual amount of Hexamine fuel tablets — a common product used by backpackers and others for heating, but also apparently used by London train bombers in 2005. Machine shops, leather good specialists — be aware if someone wants you to alter products in a way that seems unusual or suspicious, offering an evasive explanation as to why.

The 30,000 visits detectives have made since Operation Nexus started several years ago have produced 250 legitimate leads into possible terrorist acts, Lt. Higgins reports. As the New York Sun reported last September:

A beauty salon recently called the terrorism hotline after a man bought a gallon of hydrogen peroxide, which can be fashioned into a bomb when combined with products available at grocery stores. It turned out that he wasn’t planning any criminal activity, but the call itself was a small success, Lieutenant Higgins said. It meant that businesses were watching out for the city.

Sounds like good policework to us.

You can contact Operation Nexus via the NYPD’s website here.

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