NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — One of the world’s most despised leaders was quite possibly the safest man in New York City on Monday night.
The city is going to great lengths to protect Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reports CBS 2’s Rob Morrison.
The fact that this much security is out in plain sight pales in comparison to the hidden measures police and secret service have taken to protect one of the world’s most notorious men.
“They learn the hotel from top to bottom,” said David Boehm of Security USA Inc.
Metal detectors and federal agents armed with anti-terror weapons greet even the most casual hotel visitor.
Heavy sanitation trucks block 42nd Street at Second Avenue, with one police cruiser inching back and forth like a castle gate controlling the one way in and out.
One mother tried to explain why to her daughter who is still too young to understand the complicated world in which we live.
“Then these concrete blocks will stop the truck with explosives … It’s difficult to explain to a child, very difficult,” East Side resident Galina Mironoff said.
Boehm, a security expert who spent 20 years with the NYPD, said he knows all about assignments like this.
He said it’s likely Ahmadinejad is being kept on a low floor to facilitate escape and that all of his windows have been replaced with bullet proof glass.
City officials told Morrison that about 30 officers and two firefighters are assigned exclusively to the Iranian president 24 hours a day.
Boehm said that can come at a cost to outlying communities and precincts.
“When you have to take 30-plus officers for one person it really strains manpower. You feel it all over the city. You do you feel it all over the city,” Broehm said.
Many locals aren’t thrilled with the changes associated with their temporary neighbor.
“It’s usually pretty bad and there’s problems with cell phones and the Internet,” resident Deborah Cannon said.
And for those who are outraged by the Iranian leader’s politics — and resent the expense associated with protecting him — Boehm has words of caution.
“If he doesn’t get out safely and there’s an incident or problem and he gets hurt it makes us look bad,” Boehm said.
Boehm also said for the men and women tasked with protecting the controversial leader, it’s not about his politics that can spur rallies like this, it’s about doing their job.