Due to recent Islamist terror attacks, the two million revelers expected to pack New York City Times Square on New Year’s Eve will be protected by some of the heaviest security the city has seen in years.
New York City was targeted by two terror attacks recently. An explosive device strapped to the body of a terrorist exploded prematurely in the subway on December 11. On October 31, a terrorist drove a truck through a crowded sidewalk, killing eight.
“There are 12 access points for spectators to come in. Each one will have vapor wake dogs assigned there, and there will be heavy weapons teams,” Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan explained. “Once you go through there, you will proceed to the pens, you will again be screened a second time before you are allowed to enter the pens. There will be heavy weapons teams and dogs assigned throughout the entire viewing area. In addition, ESU will work hand in hand with FBI and Secret Service. We will have observation teams with counter sniper capabilities assigned throughout the entire viewing area.”
New York police chief James O’Neill said there were no direct, credible threats, but promised people would see a “stronger police presence out there than we have seen even in recent years,” which he called “prudent” in the wake of recent incidents.
Security measures will include concrete barriers, blocker vehicles and sand trucks that will seal off Times Square from vehicles. Trucks will be restricted, and pedestrian access will be limited to twelve points of entry. All people will be subject to magnetometers (wand) checks, bag checks, and screenings to ensure no weapons will make it into the site. Backpacks, large bags, and umbrellas are banned. Heavy-weapons teams and dog patrols will circulate throughout the area. Armed officers, as well as undercover police, will be strategically positioned in and around Times Square. Counter snipers will be posted on rooftops overlooking the event.
Governor Cuomo’s office said the State Emergency Operations Center will be activated on New Year’s Eve and state agencies, including the New York State Police, National Guard, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are increasing security at high-profile locations in New York City, including airports, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently upgraded the city’s New Year’s Eve on its list of special events that due to its economic or social impact, length, and attendance could be potential targets of criminal activity. For the first time, the celebration was ranked in the highest category, which also includes the Super Bowl.
Revellers will also have to cope with difficult weather. The National Weather Service warned that temperatures could fall to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius) at midnight on December 31, the coldest since 1962.