NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD said Friday that it is monitoring the developments in France after at least 84 people were killed when a large truck plowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there is no credible threat against New York City.
In a message on Twitter, Bratton offered prayers for Nice, but said “Our thoughts and eyes stay focused here.”
Mayor de Blasio said police are stepping up patrols at several areas across the city, including the French consulate on the Upper East Side, where flags were flying at half-staff on Friday.
“We absolutely are on alert,” de Blasio told WNYC. “We’re on alert every day in New York City.”
De Blasio and Bratton said officers with long guns are heavily guarding potential terror spots, and the NYPD will monitor and deploy personnel as needed.
The NYPD said it is also in moment-to-moment contact with the FBI about the attack in France.
The use of a truck as a lethal weapon in a massacre may be a different kind of terror tactic than we have seen in recent attacks. But it is a threat that the NYPD has been preparing for since a 2010 edition of Inspire magazine – an online al Qaeda publication.
The magazine featured an article on big pickup trucks as “the ultimate mowing machine.”
“The NYPD owns tons and tons of concrete blocks that we will assemble to block vehicles from charging at any particular event or crowd,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller.
Those barricades may soon be appearing at the many street fairs, rallies and Bastille Day celebrations happening around the city this weekend.
The NYPD has sent officers to Nice, France to learn more about the attack Thursday night. Miller explained the lessons learned by visiting France after attacks last year changed the way police keep New York safe.
“We were able to create the Strategic Response Command under the Special Operations Division — where they’re all active shooter trained; they all have the long weapons, the heavy vests, the helmets,” Miller said, “And they are on patrol, not a force that needs to be called out of some headquarters, but they’re all in the streets.”
There are more than 1,800 Strategic Response Command officers in the city who have undergone the special training, and who are heavily guarding potential terror targets.
From train stations and tunnels to Rockefeller Center and Times Square, there was reassurance from Bratton Friday afternoon – there will be more officers in force, ready to respond in any situation.
But Bratton had a reminder, even given that New York has one of the largest police forces in the world.
“Any place is a potential target with the form of terrorism we’re seeing, which is constantly morphing,” Bratton said.
He emphasized that there is no ability to protect against everything everywhere.
Meanwhile, CBS News senior security contributor Michael Morell is not optimistic about the future, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before we see attacks of this size here in the United States,” he told “CBS This Morning.” “I have no doubt about that. We’re going to have to adjust to their tactics. The use of a vehicle as a weapon is something terrorists have talked about for a long time.”
Morell said the concrete barriers that Miller discussed were a good idea. De Blasio also said they are the best solution.
“One of the things NYPD has really learned from watching what happens around the world is to put up multiple barriers around major events to protect against these types of attacks,” he said.
Many New Yorkers said they welcome the extra security presence.
“I see a lot of cops all over,” said pedestrian Tresha Cowell. “I think anything can happen anywhere, but I feel safe in New York City.”
“How does one walk out of their home in the morning and really feel safe the way things are in big cities like this?” said pedestrian Garry MacKenzie.
Police in Suffolk County also intensified patrols after the Nice attack, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Suffolk County police Chief Stuart Cameron said sadly, vehicle-ramming is nothing new. He said the key to stopping a terrorist attack is to anticipate what terrorists are going to do.
“We also know what terrorists do from looking at their playbook, and you may say, ‘how do we get their playbook?’ because they essentially give it to us,” Cameron said. He also noted the Inspire magazine article about the “ultimate mowing machine,” pointing out that the magazine had urged terrorists to add metal plates to a truck so it could cut people in half.
Meanwhile, many were stopping outside the French consulate Friday to leave flowers and pay their respects.
“We’re angry because we’ve been far too tolerant,” a French man named Eric told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck.
“Just wake up this morning very early and I need to see my flag,” Arnold Simarmin of Paris said while standing in front of the consulate with tears in his eyes.
“My heart bleeds for them,” An Upper East Side resident named Graham told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “It’s really, really horrible.”
As Bastille Day celebrations rang out through New York Thursday night, many say they will not let a terrorist attack ruin their national holiday or their spirit.
“I mean that’s what those people are trying to impose on us, being fearful and all that stuff, and that’s what we’re not doing,” said French New Yorker Francois Balmelle.
“They want to stop our way of life, so we need to celebrate” another man said. “We need to stay all together and to show friendship.”
City Hall was lit in France’s national colors as the American flag flew at half-staff. The Empire State Building went dark Friday night in memory of the Nice victims.
Madison Square Garden was also lit in blue, white, and red.
And in the midst of the grief and worries, Bratton also reminded everyone of a phrase we’re all familiar with – if you see something, say something.