NEW YORK – the Police of the promise of a larger security detail than ever before on Times Square for this year’s New Year’s Eve party, which will cap off a year that saw a number of deadly attacks on innocent crowd, including a vehicle rampage on the place where revelers ring in 2018.
In addition to the usual army of snipers, bag-inspection of officers and metal detectors, the department this year is to rely on the help of a growing corps of “vapor wake” dogs, which are trained to sniff out traces of explosive particles that trail behind someone with a bomb.
All 125 parking garages in the vicinity of Times Square will be emptied in advance of the celebration and closed, so that no one has a chance to sneak in a car bomb, police said.
Detectives have already been assigned to all of the dozens of high-rise hotels in the area, with the aim of preventing the type of attack that happened in Las Vegas in October, when a gunman shooting from a casino hotel killed dozens of people at an outdoor concert below. The police would not discuss whether the guests in hotels in the area would be screened in advance of the celebration, but the Police Commissioner James O’neill said officials already are working with the hotel security.
“This is going to be one of the most well-controlled, best-protected events in one of the safest places in the entire world,” O’neill said.
The extra precautions follow two recent terrorist attacks in the city. A man detonated a bomb in the metro on Dec. 11, injuring only himself. On Halloween, an Islamic State-inspired attacker rode on a bike path, killing eight people, before he wrecked his truck and was shot by the police.
Times Square itself was targeted in May by a man, according to the police, high on drugs, who rode by the crowd of pedestrians for more than three blocks, the killing of an 18-year-old tourist from Michigan. The acceleration of the vehicle was finally stopped by one of the squat metal barriers that are installed around the square, the beautiful squares.
Those attacks were reminders that New York City’s massive security apparatus can only do so much, but city officials insisted they will be able to keep people safe on New Year’s Eve.
“The fact is, they will absolutely be safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat.
The police department does not reveal the strength of the security force for the event, but it gave few details about the operation during a press conference on Thursday.
Officers have the help of about 1,000 security cameras installed in and around Times Square.
An area that is about 22 blocks long and three long blocks wide will be closed from the both vehicles and pedestrians with cement blocks, sand filled in with waste trucks and other vehicles, blocking of streets in the area.
ygoers entering a secure zone, will be screened at a dozen access points where they encounter metal detectors, the vapor wake dogs and officers with portable radiation detectors. Large backpacks are not allowed. All small bags will be searched.
From there, the people have to go through a second round of security screening as they enter spectator pens where they are essentially confined for the night. People who the pens may not re-enter — so no bathroom breaks.
Those who will get to see live performances by Andy Grammer, Nick Jonas and Mariah Carey. A cascade of confetti and fireworks ring in the new year with the Waterford Crystal ball drops.
In addition to the officers on the scene, dozens of analysts will be combing from the Islamic State propaganda and decipher the data.
The police will also take effect on Coney Island, where live music and fireworks are expected to attract a large audience, and at a midnight event for runners in Central Park.
“Pick up at our preparations, is this: the People will be safe, and they need to feel safe, too,” O’neill said. “Because the NYPD and our partners are well prepared.”