The NYPD will deploy nearly 120 sand-filled trucks and “blocker vehicles” near July 4 fireworks viewing spots in Manhattan to prevent an attacker from plowing into crowds as terrorists have done in London; Berlin; Nice, France, and elsewhere in Europe.
Speaking at police headquarters at the start of Independence Day weekend, Commissioner James O’Neill said the trucks have been parked strategically at large public gatherings like parades in New York City since after Bastille Day in July 2016, when 86 people were killed by a terrorist-driven truck that rushed into a crowd watching fireworks in Nice, France.
“We have to pay attention to what’s going on not just in the city,” O’Neill said. “We have to pay attention to what’s going on in the nation and the world, and we saw what happened in Nice.”
Chief of Department Carlos Gomez said 2017 is the first year the trucks will be deployed at a July 4 celebration in New York City.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said spectators shouldn’t be afraid when they see heavily armed cops.
“See this as a good thing. You will see well-armed police officers with long guns,” he said.
Millions of spectators are expected to cram Manhattan’s East Side and viewing spots in Brooklyn and Queens to watch the Macy’s fireworks show — with many millions more watching from rooftops and on TV.
The show will be launched from five barges stationed between East 24th and East 41st streets in the East River. The fireworks begin at 9:20 p.m., but the viewing pens open hours earlier.
“Several thousand” cops in uniform will be assigned to the event, some of whom will be guarding the 15 entrances to pens in Manhattan. Each entrance will have a checkpoint staffed by police officers with radiation detectors, others searching bags, along with an NYPD “striker team” armed with “long guns,” said Chief of Counterterrorism James Waters. Gomez said: “There will be a good amount of officers attired in civilian clothes that will be mingling in with the crowds to detect any suspicious activity or behavior.”
No big bags, umbrellas or alcohol are allowed, Gomez said.