With Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, life for New Yorkers is not going to be the same — at least from a security standpoint.
The NYPD and U.S. Secret Service are coming to grips with the reality of protecting Trump and his family when they stay in the Big Apple at the president-elect’s glitzy Trump Tower at 725 Fifth Ave.
Police held an internal briefing Monday on the types of security challenges they may face and cops will be meeting with the Secret Service later this week, an NYPD spokesman said.
Protecting Trump when he stays at his Manhattan residence “will have a big impact on us, bigger than we may know,” said Robert Strang, head of the Investigative Management Group, an international security firm with offices in Manhattan and Miami. “We have had visits quite often from Obama and Bush, and it is disruptive, no questions. Streets are closed and traffic is jammed and people detoured blocks away. I have a feeling this will be part of our city life.”
The 58-story Trump Tower, built in 1983 with a glass facade, is an added security burden because the building will likely need structural retrofitting and reinforcement to withstand a blast, whether from a small package explosive or a car or truck bomb, security officials said. Built nearly two decades before the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks, the structure didn’t have to conform to the stricter city building codes of today.
Already, the city has installed sand-filled sanitation trucks in front of the building as a temporary measure to block any vehicles attempting to ram it. Fifty-sixth Street between Fifth and Madison avenues is likely to be closed to all traffic whenever Trump is in town, said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis. Fifth Avenue, said Davis, is likely to have two lanes closest to the tower blocked off as well, perhaps on a permanent basis. That would leave three lanes for traffic.
The tower’s glass facade, common on many Fifth Avenue buildings, could sustain damage in an explosion, sending shards over a wide distance. Some experts said that as much as 50 percent of injuries to civilians in previous terrorist explosions were caused by flying glass.
Car bombs against buildings can also cause a complete or partial collapse, said Israeli security expert Arye Kasten of MIP Security. Kasten said one way of remedying that would be to increase the distance between a potential explosion and the building by putting up barriers such bollards — thick posts, usually made of concrete or steel. Strang said any costs would ultimately be borne by the federal government.
Police officials said that a blast assessment, a common study done by many building owners, was likely done on Trump Tower years ago but may have to be re-examined. These studies take into consideration intelligence information, known threats and a structure’s vulnerability, said Prof. Ted Krauthammer, head of the Center For Infrastructure Protection and Physical Security at the University of Florida.
“They are very specific for each location,” said Krauthammer about blast assessments.
A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization said the company would not comment on security matters.