With up to 10,000 cops, 1,000 security cameras and sophisticated sensors at the ready, NYPD officials Tuesday predicted Times Square on New Year’s Eve will be the safest place in the world to celebrate.
Beefed up with nearly 1,200 new recruits and several hundred heavily armed and specially trained critical response officers, the NYPD is fielding a small army to guard the city at a time when the world is still coming to terms with recent terror attacks in Paris and California.
The officers are “well trained, armed and ready to go, which puts us ahead of any major city in the United States, by far,” said NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill at a news conference held to describe security preparations for New Year’s Eve.
Police commissioner William Bratton, accompanied by Mayor Bill de Blasio, said although all of the attention is on protecting revelers at the “Crossroads of The World,” the NYPD will oversee a number of other venues, as well as the regular precincts.
Bratton noted that the terrorism threat had evolved in the past two years but said there is no credible threat against New York City for New Year’s Eve.
“We are prepared as we can be,” Bratton said at Times Square.
De Blasio said the city and the NYPD is “New York ready.”
The mayor said the new police criticial response command and strategic response group are trained to respond quickly in case of attacks at multiple locations.
“One of the realities . . . is a new world, because of what happened with ISIS,” de Blasio said. Bratton added that thousands of hand held devices will give cops in the field near instantaneous information in the case of an incident.
O’Neill said Times Square security will encompass an area stretching from West 34th Street to West 58th Street, and Sixth and Eighth avenues. There will be 14 entry points for revelers who must go through a preliminary security check and not carry and backpacks, bags or alcohol. Once inside the security cordon, the public will see bomb-sniffing dogs and cops with radiation detectors, as well as some with long rifles, officials said.
NYPD counterterrorism chief James Watters said those attending the festivities will go through a second level of security screening before they enter pens where the public will be kept during the buildup to the midnight hour.
Bratton said as soon as 15 minutes into 2016, the Times Square area will start to empty out, although regular traffic patterns won’t return for several hours.
2015 saw the introduction of ShotSpotter gunfire detection technology in the city. But Bratton didn’t think cops would have to chase many gunshot reports on New Year’s Eve because New York witnesses nowhere near the level of celebratory gunfire on New Year’s Eve as cities like Los Angeles where hundreds of rounds are fired into the sky.
“In LA, nearly every cop is under an underpass at midnight because of the sheer volume,” said Bratton, who previous served as the LAPD’s police chief.
With Emily Ngo