Following NYC explosion ‘wake-up call,’ more police on patrol in Philly

Deputy police Commissioner for special operations Dennis Wilson and SEPTA Police Commissioner Thomas Nestel.

Deputy police Commissioner for special operations Dennis Wilson and SEPTA Police Commissioner Thomas Nestel. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Following an explosion at the New York Port Authority bus terminal early Monday morning, the Philadelphia Police Department and SEPTA transit police have assigned extra patrols to monitor Center City and major transportation hubs.

No transportation delays are expected in Philadelphia, said SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel, although commuters may notice the increased police presence.

Peter Pan Bus Lines, which runs through the Greyhound Bus Terminal in Center City, had canceled service to and from New York until Monday afternoon. And Greyhound briefly canceled or redirected all transportation into and out of the Port Authority Monday morning. Service has resumed, but schedules may be affected.

The pipe bomb worn by Akayed Ullah, 27, exploded in a passageway near Times Square in Manhattan, police said. Ullah, who is in police custody, sustained burns and wounds.

Three others also were injured, but none of those injuries is life-threatening.

With incidents such as the one in New York, police are constantly looking for tips in case there is a multi-city attack, said Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson. He added that the department is following a mindset of “see something, say something” regarding suspicious behavior.

Anyone with a tip can call the police tipline at (215) 686-TIPS (8477) or dial 911.

“We have a counterterrorism-operations unit within the Philadelphia Police Department that often gets involved with these right away,” Wilson said. “We know we don’t have time to wait to the next shift. [The response is] immediate and very thorough, and it really depends on what the allegation or the tip was.”

Nestel, who said he’s been receiving tips through his Twitter account, said there’s usually a spike in the number of tips following events such as the New York explosion.

“When a family member says to me, ‘What exactly is suspicious?’ I say, ‘When the hair on the back of your neck stands up,’ ” Nestel said.

After a truck plowed into cyclists and runners, killing eight, in October in New York, Wilson said, Philadelphia police shifted resources.

“It was different for us,” Wilson said. “We changed our deployment for all large events and also other areas. We also do outreach with businesses to address that.”

“Every one of these is a wake-up call,” Wilson added. “Every one of these is a learning experience for law enforcement across the country. We look at our preparedness and our response — and look at, ‘Is there a way we can do better in the future?’ ”

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