NEW YORK – The close relationship between London's Metropolitan Police and the New York Police Department is vital to keeping people safe in a time of growing global terrorism threat, the heads of both forces said Thursday.
The head of Scotland Yard, Cressida Dick, was in the United States on her first official trip since being appointed to lead the department earlier this year. She visited the NYPD's headquarters on Thursday and met with NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill, who had recently been in London and spent some time with her agency.
Dick said the two departments "support each other very closely" and work together regularly. Both departments station officers in countries around the world.
Having those widespread connections is vital, said Dick, the first woman to head the Metropolitan Police, which has more than 43,000 officers and staff members.
"I need to have effective international relationships because crime is becoming more and more global," she said.
O'Neill said the intelligence sharing between departments is critical in order to keep on top of potential threats around the world.
"Probably the most important thing is the real-time exchange of information in case anything does happen, we're able to redeploy our resources immediately," O'Neill said.
Britain's domestic intelligence chief, MI5 Director General Andrew Parker, warned last week in a rare public speech that the terrorist threat the U.K. country faces has accelerated at an alarming rate and is worse now than at any time during his 34-year career.
Britain has endured five attacks this year, which have killed a total of 36 people and injured dozens more.
Last week, President Donald Trump tweeted that crime in the U.K. rises 13 percent annually, blaming the tally on Islamic terrorism, misinterpreting the crime statistics. Terror attacks in London and Manchester accounted for 1/100th of a percent of the total number of crimes recorded in the report, and homicides were down 2 percent.
Dick said the feeling in London is one of resilience, not fear.
"People understand how to be alert, but not alarmed, as we say. Even though we've had some horrible things happen this year, the city is running just the way it always does," she said.
During Thursday's visit, Dick said she was impressed by the NYPD's use of data and technology, while O'Neill said he had been interested in observing her agency's community policing efforts while he was in London. O'Neill has spearheaded a neighborhood policing model in New York City, where officers are consistently assigned to specific beats. He credits the model in helping to drive down crime to record lows.
"A lot of that has to do with neighborhood policing, a lot of that has to do with going after gangs and crews, and our level of cooperation collaboration with the federal agencies," O'Neill said.
Dick was asked if there was anything to learn from challenges that were specific to the U.S., like the particular nature of relationships between law enforcement and minority communities and the conditions that exist in a country where guns are more readily available than they are in the United Kingdom. Even those situations had an impact, she said.
"To come away and see other people's challenges always gives you a different perspective and has certainly allowed me to think about a number of different issues differently, just by looking back to London from here," she said.