New Yorkers were under some of the tightest security in recent memory over the weekend, and the NYPD plans to continue the heightened police presence through at least Monday amid reports of a potential terrorist threat around the 9/11 anniversary.
NYPD officials wouldn’t say how long the increased security will continue, although Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday officers would have their shifts extended another four hours through Monday.
“The high state of readiness that you see is going to be maintained,” Kelly said on Fox 5 News.
The beefed-up security comes as police said Sunday they’ve found one of three stolen vans – cases being investigated because of a possible car bomb threat linked to al-Qaida.
Two vans described as dark green Chevys were missing from a World Trade Center contractor in Queens earlier this month. One of the vans was found Saturday night, parked on Coolidge Avenue in Briarwood, Queens. It was empty, police said, but it had contained about $70,000 worth of tools when it was swiped.
Also raising alarms was the theft of a white Econoline with Oklahoma plates from a Jersey City storage facility on Aug. 21. The phone lines and alarms at the facility had been cut, police said.
“Nothing has really changed,” Kelly said of the need to stay alert. “The information that we’ve received – that’s credible, that’s uncorroborated – remains the same.”
Prominent areas throughout the city saw a step up in law enforcement, including Times Square and lower Manhattan, as more than a thousand cops were dispatched, some carrying radiation detectors and sniper rifles. Police seemed omnipresent in subways, riding in trains and checking bags. Officers may continue stopping drivers at checkpoints near bridges and tunnels, which were suspected targets of the unconfirmed plot.
“I feel extremely safe. Out here’s like Halloween, so you never know what to expect,” said Luis Bautista, 48, of Forest Hills, who was visiting lower Manhattan on Sunday.
The streets near the World Trade Center were barricaded and closed off to traffic over the weekend. Those who wanted to get right outside of the 9/11 Memorial, which remains gated off, had to pass through two layers of security checkpoints on some blocks. The streets are expected to reopen normally Monday.