(NBC News) ANTWERP, Belgium — An explosion at the main train station. Minutes later, shots ring out as terrorists storm a synagogue in another part of the city. And then, in a mall on the outskirts, armed gunmen storm a movie theater and take hostages.
At police headquarters, Antwerp police commanders mobilize all available units and call in national counterterror teams to deal with the series of coordinated attacks. In the command post sits an officer from a different police force an ocean away — an NYPD lieutenant. Briefed on events in real time, he calls his own HQ in New York with an update. Within minutes, NYPD counterterror teams are dispatched to Grand Central Station, the Belgian consulate and synagogues across New York City as a precaution.
It is all a drill — an exercise to test cooperation and information-sharing between Belgian and New York authorities. In addition to the lieutenant inside the command center, other NYPD detectives are riding along with SWAT teams in the field, getting real information from what is happening at the scene.
The Antwerp exercise is one example of how the NYPD is placing detectives in big city police departments across the globe amid the growing terror threat from groups like ISIS. Since 9/11, the NYPD has embedded intelligence officers in 13 locations including London, Paris, Jerusalem, Amman, Madrid, Toronto, and as far away as Sydney. It is all part of a growing effort to exchange threat information with international partners in real time.
“We need to be positioned 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, all around the globe to react in New York City in real time,” said John Miller, the NYPD deputy commissioner for intelligence.
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