Authorities in New York increased security in the wake of the Brussels attacks, assigning 13,000 additional police to the subway system and city landmarks.
City officials also stationed state police at Penn Station and Grand Central Station and increased the number of National Guard personnel at the city’s airports.
At the same time, in response to presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s comments about placing U.S. Muslims under greater scrutiny, Police Commissioner William Bratton pointedly stated in a news conference and interviews that he found it offensive to blame Muslims.
Meanwhile, national security expert Jason Healey, a senior research scholar at Columbia University, explained that terrorists in Belgium targeted transportation hubs, known as “soft targets,” because police raids and arrests had prevented them from staging more complex attacks. As a result, commuters in New York saw more police officers at subway stations on Friday.
“When you see increased police presence here in New York City that really is, in this case, just to let people know that they’re there to a significant degree,” Healey explained. “[It’s] to say, ‘We’re here, don’t worry about it. You can feel safe taking the subway because we’ve got eyes.’”
For the most part, commuters and subway riders do feel more secure when they notice the tighter security. At Penn Station, commuter Cathy Kier, for example, agreed that it’s hard not to feel that way when you see officers everywhere. “I’ve seen National Guards before, even before the attack,” said commuter Cathy Kier at Penn Station. “But it just kind of becomes more prominent, or I notice it more.”