The Big Apple’s still the big target for terrorists plotting to attack the U.S., officials said, but it’s anyone’s guess whether a revamped national warning system unveiled Wednesday will help save lives.
“It’s impossible to say right now if it will be effective,” said Charles Strozier, director of the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “New York still needs to take extra steps to protect itself. So what precautions would people need to take if they’re in some kind of danger?”
One of the reasons why the feds are scrapping the color-coded alert system is to make sure the public responds appropriately to terror threats, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said at a news conference at Grand Central Terminal.
So beginning April 26, the alert system will feature just two tiers of warnings: elevated and imminent.
“These alerts are designed for when there is specific credible information … in order to know what (people) need to do, how they protect their families and how they can help us protect their communities,” said Napolitano, who was joined by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and local politicians.
Officials acknowledged that the multihued alert system – which features red as the most “severe” warning – has been confusing since former President George W. Bush adopted it after 9/11.
Elevated threats will be issued when there is credible information. Imminent threats will refer to impending attacks and specific targets. Warnings could also be geared toward one location or type of place.
Unlike the color-coded alerts, threats announced under the new system wouldn’t last more than two weeks unless warranted, Napolitano said.
Some New Yorkers said that even with a new system, they’re not going to panic.
“I always take the subway, and I’m not going to stop for fear. But if there was an alert that something specific was going to happen, I would keep my distance,” said Janne Anderson, 28, of Clinton Hill.
“I’m more afraid of earthquakes than terrorists right now,” added Lisa Farley, 37, of Chelsea.
Officials agree that New York is safer than it’s ever been, but even with good intelligence, terrorists still have the opportunity to attack open targets, such as the subways.
The city averted a major attack last May, when terrorist Faisal Shahzad failed to detonate a car bomb in Times Square.