Manhattan's Halloween Parade Thursday faces no credible threats but the event will still include a large NYPD presence with a counterterrorism focus, said Police Commissioner James O'Neill.
Coming days after the killing of ISIS leader Abu Baku al-Baghdadi, parade watchers can expect to see bomb-sniffing dogs on Manhattan streets and in subways, said Assistant Chief Steve Hughes, head of Patrol Borough Manhattan South.
Al-Baghdadi’s death might mean new terror threats in the short term but they should diminish over time, said Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who heads the NYPD counterterrorism effort.
“There could be an increased threat in somebody may want to avenge [al-Baghdadi’s death]," Miller said. " … There could be a decreased threat in that he is no longer in a leadership role.”
Also, with the lone-wolf terror attack on the West Side of Manhattan on Halloween 2017 still a vivid reminder of the threat the city faces, the NYPD will have a significant uniformed presence along the parade route, O'Neill said.
The parade will kick off at 7 p.m. and proceed north on Sixth Avenue to its terminus at West 16th Street, Hughes said. There will be a number of pedestrian crossing points along the route but vehicle traffic will be banned from about one hour before the parade until it ends at about 10 p.m., Hughes said.
This year's parade marks two years since the worst terror attack in the city after Sept.11, 2001. Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov, 29, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, drove a flatbed pickup truck down a bicycle lane adjacent to West Street, mowing down bikers and pedestrians, authorities said.
Saipov allegedly did the crime in the name of ISIS. Eight people were killed and 11 injured. Saipov was immediately captured by police and hit with federal charges of murders and other offenses in a terrorism racketeering case.
He potentially faces the death penalty if convicted. He has filed legal papers in court trying to get some of his relatives into the country to give court testimony, a move which a federal judge has rebuffed as premature, records show.
O’Neill said that after the attack, the city put up Jersey barriers on the bike path later and replaced them with permanent bollards to block vehicle entry.
Since the spring, there have been 40 different postings referencing to New York City in terror-related chat rooms, Miller said.
As he has done for other high visibility public events, O’Neill asked members of the public to report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary to cops.