Image: New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
Mary Altaffer  /  AP
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, right, is credited with shaping the NYPD's counter-terror effort.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 9/26/2011 6:15:16 PM ET 2011-09-26T22:15:16

The New York Police Department could take down a plane if necessary, Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday, describing the counter-terror measures he implemented after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Kelly decided the city couldn't rely on the federal government alone after the attacks, he told CBS' "60 Minutes".

And so he set about creating the NYPD's own counter-terrorism unit, which is prepared for multiple scenarios and could even take down a plane, he said.

"I knew that we had to supplement, buttress our defenses of this city," Kelly told "60 Minutes".

"We couldn't rely on the federal government alone. I believed that we had to create our own counter-terrorism capacity, indeed our own counter-terrorism division. And, that plan was put into effect fairly rapidly," he added.

Kelly didn't divulge details about the NYPD's ability to take down a plane but said "obviously this would be in a very extreme situation."

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne later added that "NYPD Aviation has weapons that could be deployed with that capability," the New York Post reported Monday.

Police sources told The Post that Kelly and Browne were referring to Barrett .50 caliber rifles that can be mounted on most police helicopters. The bullets can rip through cockpit glass as well as fuselage, and their force has been compared to that of a bazooka.

The rifles are stored in an NYPD safe and are deployed only for "special occasions," such as when the president is in town, the sources added.

Other law-enforcement sources told NBC News that a third crew member joins the helicopter pilot and copilot to operate the rifle. Attached to a sling and with a side door on the chopper open, the weapon can be used to disable a boat or a small aircraft, the sources said.

The idea for this added layer of security came amid the earlier threat that Al-Qaida might use small aircraft such as crop dusters to spread chemical or biological weapons.

The NYPD would not try to intercept an airliner, the sources added, noting that responsibility for that lies with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.

"Each state and city has the right to execute law enforcement responsibilities, while NORAD remains responsible for defending the United States and Canada from air threats that are considered an attack on our Nations," NORAD spokesman James Graybeal told NBC News.

The Coast Guard and military have helicopters equipped with similar weaponry. NYPD officers train with the .50 caliber on the ground at ranges and have conducted exercises in their choppers at Fort Dix and other bases, the sources said.

NYPD's acquisition of the rifles was first announced in 2005.

International presence
Kelly also told "60 Minutes" that the NYPD has intelligence officers stationed in cities around the world, including Abu Dhabi, Amman, Montreal, Toronto, Singapore and Paris.

Slideshow: America remembers (on this page)

"They're there to act as trip wires or listening posts" he said. "Is there anything going on there that (as I say) can help us better protect the city."

The NYPD also uses radiation detectors and has created a network of surveillance cameras in Manhattan to track threats.

Story: 9/11 memorial plaza in NYC opens to the public

To help foster a closer relationship with the local community, the NYPD has created a cricket league for city kids.

"Back in the old days, we played baseball, basketball with the kids," NYPD Inspector Amin Kasseim told "60 Minutes".

"But as we have these new immigrant communities coming from overseas, we have to find the sports that they love, that they genuinely love," he added.

NBC's Jonathan Dienst and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Inside the ‘bigger, better' World Trade Center 

  1. Closed captioning of: Inside the ‘bigger, better' World Trade Center 

    >>> we welcome you back to ground zero in lower manhattan . the new one world trade center building behind me formally known as freedom tower is still under construction. already reached to 80th floor. we were given a private tour of what will soon be the tallest building in this country.

    >> you have a little bit of your life and soul embedded in that building.

    >> we are moving on. we're making it bigger, better, and stronger.

    >> i feel like i've accomplished something really big.

    >> reporter: the men and women rebuilding ground zero understand their work is much more than a job. every bolt, every beam, every floor supports the weight of history. i begin my tour in the footprint of the ones historic buildings with architect. this forest of trees will grow 70 feet tall. all of them oak, except one. the survivor tree , pulled from the rubble at ground zero .

    >> it looks like it was a tree but it was nursed back to health. this try is thriving and surviving.

    >> reporter: when he was just 34, he beat out over 5,000 entrants in the design competition for the memorial. his winning vision set were the original towers once stood. 2 30-foot waterfalls into darkness , he calls it, we flekting absence. what do you want them to think as they look down in this?

    >> what i wanted to do is really create a place where people could have a moment of silence. emptiness, but emptiness full of meaning.

    >> can you show me a glircht of what it's going to look like?

    >> reporter: yet to be revealed are the victim's names engraved in panels surrounding the pools.

    >> here are some of the ladder companies.

    >> reporter: while the pools are meant to honor the dead, it's the building towering beside them, one world trade center that will honor the living.

    >> you look at this thing, you have another 30 floors to go but it's going up at a pace about a floor a week. right?

    >> incredible.

    >> how high are we going?

    >> the top, 76. i think it's going to give you a new sense of a new town town.

    >> i head up with chris ward , executive director of the port authority in new york and new jersey that oversees construction. what's being done to make it as safe as possible?

    >> well, what you're looking at is incredible soaring, beautiful lobby that has inherent in its design safety and security. this is a blast wall that was 18,000 pounds per square inch in concrete, to stop anybody from bringing a truck bomb in. these steel girders are 60 feet tall and ways 70 tons. up we go. i want to say this is truly going to be the exclamation point of a new york city skyline.

    >> how tall is it going to be?

    >> all of the way up, it's going to be 1776 . to the roof it's going to be 1356 . it's going to be 3.2 million square feet . it will be the tallest skyscraper in america .

    >> reporter: touted as new gold standard in skyscrapers, the top half will be shaped like a perfect octagon, 20 floors of glass, it will also have some of the fastest elevators in the world. but all this comes at a cost. an estimated $3.2 billion and years of delays.

    >> they're doing an incredible job, and yet some people are going to say it's been ten years and they're surprised it's not done by now. how do you answer that?

    >> we have built the most complex public works project in america 's history. this tower that we're going to be on was built on top of a subway train . they're working every single hour of every single day.

    >> reporter: and to move forward, they needed to put aside years of in fighting among politicians, designers, and the victim's family.

    >> 68, turn right, when you do, look what you see.

    >> wow. wow. like an unobstructed view.

    >> this could be your corner office .

    >> reporter: unlike the old world trade center with a framework of external steel, this building rises to an armored concrete core. if something were to happen to that structure right there, it doesn't jeopardize the integrity of the building.

    >> exactly. it was designed to stop that cascading catastrophic failure that everybody saw on 9/11. okay. so we're now going to look at the outer stairways.

    >> comfort of home.

    >> yes. you have a problem with heights this is probably where the tour ends.

    >> yes.

    >> it's a workout to reach the top. a dizzying ladder winds upward. from now on we're on ladders?

    >> ladders.

    >> reporter: if you need a break you can duck into the subway, sandwich shop that is. it rises with the building. i'm buying lunch, guys. so come on, belly up, all right? there are over 3500 workers at ground zero . many of whom feel deeply connected to this site. brian lions came down town on 9/11 to find his kid brother michael, a firefighter, who never made it home. you've been down here basically every day since. why?

    >> at that moment i made a commitment to myself i wanted to find my brother, find everybody else , and rebuild this place bigger and better than everybody before. new york city and america can't be defeated.

    >> wow.

    >> 76.

    >> right now.

    >> 30 to go.

    >> wow. wow. that's a lot to think about.

    >> reporter: a soaring testament to our nation's resilience wrapped up in concrete, glass, and seals. the day you turn the key and they open this place, what do you think it's going to mean to not only new york city but america ?

    >> i think it's going to be just an incredible statement of pride. this is what we do. we build, we recover, rwe create a place to live. that's who we are.

    >> quite a view from up there. the tower will be ready for business in 2013 . one world trade center already has two major tenants. they say they will have no problem filling the rest. we're going to be back on a friday morning right after

Photos: America Remembers

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  1. Joe Caristo of Miami, who once worked at the World Trade Center, stands silently Sunday, Sept. 11, during a ceremony in New York marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Caristo says he lost friends in the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. (Craig Ruttle / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Cho Sok Wells, accompanied by his wife Cathy, kisses their 10-month-old son Cristian while visiting his sister's memorial bench after the 10th anniversary 9/11 ceremony at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Sunday. (Shawn Thew / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Visitors embrace in front of the Wall of Names near the crash site of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., on Sunday. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. U.S. flight medic Sfc David Bibb of Santa Fe, N.M., holds an American flag on top of a helicopter Sunday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at Forward Operating Base Edi in Afghanistan's Helmand province. (Rafiq Maqbool / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. People gather during a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, outside the World Trade Center site in New York. (Oded Balilty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A young man holds his head as he sits in front of a memorial for FDNY firefighters from Ladder Company 20 who died at the World Trade Center on 9/1. New York City firefighters are commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and honoring the 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Las Vegas firefighter Capt. Eric Littmann walks in a parade commemorating the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Sept. 11, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nev. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. People observe a moment of silence during ceremonies at the World Trade Center site for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Christoffer Molsins, a soldier from Denmark who is being deployed to Afghanistan, holds his dog tags while standing with thousands of others on Church Street in lower Manhattan as they listen to the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Capt. Erik Schutz, 26, of Medina, Minn., right, and Capt. Matt Schachman, 28, of Wilmette, Ill., raise a new American flag to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as Capt. Ron Hopkins, 27, left, of Honolulu, Hawaii, looks on Sept. 11, 2011 at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, Afghanistan. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Helen Jordan of London reads ribbons of remembrance on a fence at St. Pauls Church in Lower Manhattan during events marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Mike Segar / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Fire fighters and other first responders receive applause as they wind their way through the seats at Parkview Field baseball stadium in Fort Wayne, Ind., Sept 11, 2011. The 9/11 Stair Climb memorial walk started at 8:46 a.m., the time the first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. About 400 people attended the event. (Samuel Hoffman /  The Journal Gazette via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Mourners embrace during tenth anniversary ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Lucas Jackson / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. People react during ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, in New York, Sept. 11, 2011. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Robert Peraza, who lost his son Robert David Peraza in the attacks at the World Trade Center, pauses on Sunday, Sept. 11, at his son's name at the North Pool of the 9/11 Memorial before the 10th anniversary ceremony. (Justin Lane / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Family members arrive Sunday at the check-in area before the ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. President Barack Obama, right; first lady Michelle Obama; former President George W. Bush; and former first lady Laura Bush look out at the North Pool of the 9/11 memorial. (Timothy A. Clary / Pool via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. New York City police and firefighters and Port Authority police officers salute during the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Sept. 11 memorial, during the 10th anniversary ceremonies at the site on Sunday. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A man walks among nearly 3,000 flags set up as part of a remembrance in St. Louis, Mo., on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. (Jeff Roberson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. People arrive Sunday for the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. (Oded Balilty / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Three small stones are placed over a name on one of the plaques in the '9/11 Memorial' outside Jerusalem on Sept. 11, 2011, during a 10th anniversary memorial ceremony marking the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, which killed nearly 3,000 people, including five Israelis. It is customary at Jewish cemeteries to place stones on the graves of loved ones. The memorial here contains a large American flag made of bronze that appears to be billowing in the wind, and has plaques containing all of the nearly 3,000 names of the victims, the only site to do so outside the one at the World Trade Center in New York City. (Jim Hollander / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Peace activists release white doves during a commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 terror attacks in Berlin, Germany, on September 11, 2011. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Members of Clerkenwell Fire Station's Green Watch observe a minute of silence in London, England, on Sunday, remembering their fellow firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. (Peter MacDiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. High school students pose for a photo by a damaged replica of the Statue of Liberty in Ishinomaki, Japan, Sunday. As the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, Sunday was doubly significant for Japan. It marked six months since the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11. (Hiro Komae / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. The Tribute in Light shines above lower Manhattan, the Statue of Libertyand One World Trade Center, left, on Saturday. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Family and friends of those aboard Flight 93 gather on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, at the boulder that marks the crash site outside Shanksville, Pa. They were there the day before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks after the dedication of the first phase of the permanent Flight 93 National Memorial. (Gene J. Puskar / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the dedication of the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa.. A long white stone wall bearing the names of those who struggled with al-Qaida terrorists on the fourth airliner to be hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, was unveiled on the rural Pennsylvania field where the Boeing 757 crashed. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former first lady Laura Bush bow their heads during ceremonies in Shanksville, Pa. (Jason Cohn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A family member of one of the victims of the crash of United Flight 93 walks along a part of the Flight 93 National Memorial following its dedication. The names of the 40 victims of the crash are inscribed on the marble panels. (Amy Sancetta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. People look out at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 10 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Workers take off their hard hats off during the playing of the National Anthem after unfurling a flag on One World Trade Center overlooking the national Sept. 11 memorial on Sept. 10. (Matt Rourke / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Workers scrub a waterfall pool at the National September 11 Memorial on Sept. 10 in New York. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A tribute to Sept. 11 is seen at Bryant Park on Sept. 10 in New York. There are 2,753 empty chairs -- one for each life lost in New York during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Flags are carried into St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York during a ceremony Sept. 10 to honor New York firefighters killed in the attacks. (Seth Wenig / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A New York firefighter listens as the daughter of a firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001, speaks during the first repsponders' memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. (Brian Snyder / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A visitor takes pictures of flags erected at Battery Park in Manhattan, on Sept. 10 as a part of a project called "One Flag One Life" to marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks. (Mladen Antonov / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The Score family hugs after participating in the "Hand In Hand, Remembering 9/11" event in Battery Park in New York Sept. 10. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A woman writes a message on the wall of remembrance memorial near the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 10. (Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. In Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J., on Sept. 10, a man looks at names on the wall of the newly opened Empty Sky memorial to victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The memorial consists of two 30-foot-tall concrete and steel structures, inscribed with the names of the 746 people from New Jersey who died in the attacks. (Gary Hershorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Dr. Madeline Borquist of Carmel Valley, Calif., uses charcoal to outline the name of her niece, Alison Marie Wildman, during the memorial dedication of the Empty Sky memorial at Liberty State Park on Sept. 10 in Jersey City, N.J. Wildman was killed in the terrorist attacks. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Angela Calos, left, and Heather Benedetto visit the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on Sept. 10 in Washington. The memorial commemorates the 184 people who died at the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77. (Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. President Barack Obama hugs a visitor during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington on Sept. 10. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Judy and Bob Poore place a flag at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia on Sept. 10 to help commemorate the 10th anniversary and remember their friend Ann Ransom, one of nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks. A flag was placed on the battlefield for each victim; the flags will remain flying through Sept. 16. (David Tulis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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