Days After Boston Bombings, Security Remains High Across Tri-State
New Yorkers are on high alert, reporting more than 135 suspicious packages to the NYPD since the Boston bombings on Monday.
“I think New Yorkers know that they have to be proactive to make sure that the security of New York City is maintained,” said David Silverman from Battery Park City.
“Just the world we live in,” said commuter Michael Hill. “I guess we have to adapt to it.”
The NYPD has said there are no specific threats, but city leaders said they are re-evaluating everything.
“The fact is: There remain people who want to attack us, and the moment we let our guard down — is the moment that the terrorists are waiting for,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.
The NYPD has mobilized 1,000 members of its anti-terrorism squad. Hundreds more uniformed and undercover officers are on patrol while so-called “Hercules” teams guard monuments, iconic structures, houses of worship and other potential targets.
Police also have a network of 3,000 surveillance cameras to monitor suspicious objects and activities.
“Instead of watching a camera, the camera will alert and give us an alert on something suspicious happening in the field,” said Sal Dipace with the NYPD.
Police and security guards were visible at the Vanity Fair gala Tuesday night to kick off this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where arriving guests were screened by an outdoor metal detector.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who was at the event, said he hoped the increased police presence would calm people’s fears.
“We believe that by increasing uniform presence we’ve sort of raised the comfort level,” he said. “People understandably feel a little anxious after a terrible event — in Boston, so we do that to again make people feel a little more comfortable and let them know we’re on the job.”
But both Bloomberg and Kelly admit there are soft targets that are nearly impossible to secure.
“There are certain events that are going to be open just by their very nature,” Kelly said earlier Tuesday.
The city also has two major events coming up this weekend — a 5K run/walk to the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum Sunday and a 4-mile race in Central Park.
Kelly said the NYPD will not be banning backpacks for road races in New York City, differentiating them from events such as New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
“New Year’s Eve, we don’t let people bring packages into a very closely defined area. It’s not the case with a run. It’s a longer route and it’d be difficult to cordon off that area,” he said Wednesday.
He urged the public to take part in this weekend’s events, but noted that there would be additional police, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
Retired NYPD Lieutenant David Boehm owns his own security firm now and said the Boston attacks will irreversibly alter the way police approach big events.
“It’s going to be doing additional sweeps, officers monitoring areas out there just to look for packages that shouldn’t be there,” he said.
On Long Island, Nassau County police are set to hold a meeting Wednesday to discuss security measures for the Long Island Marathon, which will be held on May 5.
“We’re going to talk about increasing police presence and increasing things we’ll do covertly and overtly. We’re going to look at the layout of the race to ensure the safety of the runners and the viewing public,” said Police Inspector Kenneth Lack.
The race is usually held on the Meadowbrook Parkway between Jones Beach in Wantagh and Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. Officials did not comment on whether the route will be altered.
“We’re doing an overall risk assessment,” County Executive Edward Mangano said. “We will no doubt make some changes to our protocols to secure our runners and spectators.”
In Connecticut, officials for several upcoming sporting events are also reviewing security measures.
At Rentschler Field in East Hartford, security officials said they will be adding more security for the University of Connecticut’s annual spring football game this Saturday.
In Cromwell, tournament director for the Travelers Championship PGA golf tournament, Nathan Grube, said safety is always a top priority, but he expects to hold more discussions about security for the June tournament.
In New Jersey, Jersey City Police Chief Tom Comey said all guests will be screened before a mayoral debate Wednesday evening.
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