Southampton police roll out counterterrorism unit

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SOUTHAMPTON -

The Southampton Town Police Department recently rolled out a new counterterrorism unit in response to terror attacks in the U.S. and around the world.

Officials say 15 officers received extra training, and the unit was launched earlier this summer. Police Chief Steven Skrynecki says it's part of an effort to make sure his officers are immediately ready to take action and have the preparation they need.

"Some of that training includes training from the Secret Service, in terms of looking at a crowd, in terms of eyeballing individuals to see who might be carrying a weapon or an explosive on them, looking for signs a person might be nervous," Skrynecki explains.

Since the unit was implemented, residents say it's not unusual to see town police officers armed with AR-15 rifles at public events, including at the annual St. Jude Hope in the Hamptons benefit last month.

Skrynecki says the rifles are nothing new for the department -- they've been inside patrol cars for three years - and the chief says holding the rifles is a time-saver during an emergency.

"They would not have to be running to a car and running back... they would have it at the ready," he says.

The new initiative is getting mixed results from residents.

"I think it's scary," says one resident. "I think it kind of puts a little damper on us in town, it's like being after 9/11 in the city."

But others say it makes them feel more secure.

"We understand that this is a different look," Chief Skrynecki says. "We understand that not everyone may agree that this is necessary. We are fine-tuning our program with that feedback."

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