The NYPD is heightening security in key spots across the city days ahead of the annual New Year’s Eve celebration that will see some two million people pack pens in Times Square to watch the famed ball drop.
At a press conference Thursday, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the amount of security this year is unprecedented and comes in the wake of recent attacks.
“You’ll see a stronger police presence out there then we’ve seen even in recent years. And that’s prudent, given the terror events we’ve seen and studied around the world, as well as the three incidents here in New York over the past 15 months,” O’Neill said, referring to the failed bombing of a Times Square subway tunnel earlier this month, as well as the truck rampage that killed eight people on Halloween, and the Chelsea bombing that injured dozens in September 2016.
Officials said there were no credible threats to the city or its New Year’s Eve celebration, but that additional resources are in place as the city rings in 2018.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the fact the city can pull off such a security feat should be a point of pride.
“New York City is one of the few places in the world that could host an event like this and provide this level of security,” de Blasio said.
Getting in to see the famous ball won't be easy. There will be 12 access points with multiple layers of security. At each entrance will be special “vapor wake” bomb-sniffing dogs and heavy-weapons teams. Revelers will be scanned by magnetometers and will have their bags inspected; no large bags or coolers will be permitted.
The NYPD will have teams available to handle a sniper shooting like the one in Las Vegas that killed dozens of people in October. Uniformed officers will be stationed at hotels and information will be sent out on police smart phones, showing officers how to deal with someone wearing a suicide vest.
Police have also been trained on how to spot would-be bombers, how to stop them with lethal force and how to treat the wounded in the event of an explosion.
“I think they’ve got it under control. The NYPD, they know what they’re doing,” said Meredith Begley, of Astoria.
Lots of people said they planned to avoid the event -- not out of fear of terrorism, but out of fear of the bitter forecast. Temperatures on New Year’s Eve are expected to be in the teens, with wind chills below 0.