NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Officials say the NYPD is ready to keep this year’s big New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square safe in the wake of recent terror attacks in Europe.
The city is planning for two million people to pack the Crossroads of the World on Saturday and police are rolling out the most security measures to date, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported.
“Every year, people want to know how ready we are and how ready the NYPD is,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “And I remind people every year of this extraordinary record of handling these big events.”
“We’re going to have one of the most well policed, best protected events in one of the safest venues in the entire world,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.
O’Neill added “everybody has got to be on their toes.”
“Everybody knows how important this is. Everybody knows the eyes of the world are upon Times Square,” he said.
Revelers can expect to see 7,000 officers as well as bag checks, helicopters, security cameras. There will also be officers that blend into the crowds, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“If you think something’s happening that makes you worried, go tell an officer, and there’s going to be no lack of officers to find in Times Square,” de Blasio said.
“We’ll use metal detectors to scan individuals entering the observation areas,” said Chief of Department Carlos Gomez. “We will also deploy our full compliment of explosive detecting K-9s, both at the event and throughout our transit system. Detailed personnel will sweep hotels, theaters and parking garages.”
“As you approach the Times Square area, you will be greeted with one screening. And then once you get past that, before you enter our viewing pens, you will be screened once again,” Gomez added.
After recent attacks in Germany and France where trucks were used as a weapon to plow into crowds, Gomez said 65 sand and sanitation trucks will be placed around the perimeter of Times Square to keep people safe.
“In addition to those heavy vehicles, we’ll be employing over 100 blocker vehicles,” he said.
Police said 57th Street will be closed to traffic and possibly 59th Street, depending on the crowds.
In addition, the mayor reminded anyone going to the New Year’s Eve bash that umbrellas and large bags are prohibited.
“Sometimes there’s controversy over that. I want to be real clear up front: Just don’t do it,” he said.
There’s no doubt a cloud of concern hangs above Times Square this year.
“It’s something I don’t want to think about, but in the end, unfortunately, anything is possible,” said resident John McManus.
But New Yorkers are resilient and many say fear is not going to prevent them from partying.
“Of course, it’s always in the back of your mind as you go about daily life, but as a New Yorker you just deal with it on a daily basis,” said resident Kendall Francis.
“It’s just getting better and better and better, the city really has locked down on this,” said Joe Calvano, who works in Times Square.
Last year, the NYPD deployed about 6,000 officers around the Times Square area. That included officers in uniform, undercover officers and some from their counterterrorism units armed with high power weapons, radiation detectors and bomb sniffing dogs.
“It’s a changing world, so this is something that will be part of the future,” O’Neill said.