The Hamptons is a playground for the rich and famous and also–now, it seems–a place where a counterterrorism force holding “very noticeable automatic weapons” stands among concert and event-goers.
Bloomberg reports that the counterterrorism agents first appeared in April, during the Bridgehampton Half Marathon. Onlookers watched as “cops wearing bulletproof vests and carrying fully loaded AR-15s” moved about near the race’s finish line. The presence of the counterterrorism force has only increased since then.
For example, Susan Lehman–formerly of the New York Times–drove into the Hamptons recently and said, “It was impossible not to notice two figures with the word POLICE emblazoned in white on their spruce black costumes, and very noticeable automatic weapons in their hands.” She referenced a concert and observed that as the musicians played, “two armed guards milled around in the open space in the front of the tent where the concert was being held.”
Southampton police chief Steven Skrynecki made clear that there has not been “so much as a hint of a threat,” but he said stressed the need for vigilance. He said, “Many of the people at Southampton events are symbols of American affluence and success and capitalism. At the same time, there is an abundance of freedom of expression and morals and dress. The attendees’ beliefs might be contrary to the known ideology of terrorist groups.” He also suggested danger could be posed by the “ultra right.”
Bloomberg reports the counterterrorism force is 15 persons strong, and suggests the agents are really there because Skrynecki, “has caught militarization fever.” They point to security expert Bruce Schneier, who rejects the need for such a force. Yet the force has worked “several dozen high-end Hamptons galas and events, including a big benefit for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, a fundraiser for the James Beard Foundation, the annual Hope in the Hamptons event put on by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and even a family fair that took place at the Children’s Museum of the East End.”
Schneier observed, “If you do the math, the odds of a terrorist attack at one of these events is infinitesimal. You would do more good screening for drunk drivers. But that isn’t sexy.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org