NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Security experts said the incident Thursday in which a driver mowed down multiple people in Times Square is a learning lesson – not only for the NYPD, but for would-be terrorists as well.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Times Square security is something the NYPD trains for constantly and with great intensity. There is a special squad located there, and they have all the latest weapons and technology.
But the horrible incident Thursday, in which an 18-year-old woman visiting from Michigan was killed and 22 others were injured, will give the NYPD much to study.
Following the Times Square horror, NYPD squad cars were seen racing down the streets at breakneck speed, in a lightning-fast response to the horrific incident. It all happened at one of the most well-protected areas on the planet.
But despite the intense security, a man identified by police as Richard Rojas, 26, was able to drive through dozens of pedestrians on the sidewalk.
“There is no indication that this was an act of terrorism,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “That being said, we are reinforcing key locations around the city with our anti-terror units of the NYPD.”
Security expert Manny Gomez, a former FBI agent, said the incident is a rude awakening for the NYPD with all its high-tech and highfalutin security measures. It is a lessons-learned situation, with numerous questions arising about how it could have happened.
“Although you have the ring of steel with hundreds of cameras in Times Square and elsewhere; even though you have the concrete barriers, somebody could still drive a car through Times Square and hit multiple people at any time,” Gomez said.
Clearly the metal bollards, of which 200 have been installed in the last year in Times Square, helped stopped the car and prevent more injuries. But in the crosswalks, people are still vulnerable.
Gomez said the NYPD could take measures to make the crosswalks safer, but they would severely impact what is already a traffic nightmare.
But the big question is whether the NYPD thinks it’s feasible.
“Traffic in Times Square is a hot mess as it is,” Gomez said. He said police could put up movable barriers and movable gates at crosswalks, “but then… we have to be ready for infinitely more traffic infinitely more scrutiny.”
Sadly, Gomez said police officers are not the only ones who are minutely reviewing what happened. The terrorists will be doing so too.
Gomez said they use it as a learning tool for how to wreak havoc in Times Square – the so-called center of the world.
Gomez said Times Square is a target that terrorists salivate over.
“Now terrorists are looking at this and saying, ‘Imagine what we could do with an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer with full intent or even with explosives inside the truck,’” he said.
Late Thursday, the NYPD was embarking on an after-incident assessment to see if there are any next steps. After de Blasio and police Commissioner James O’Neill left the scene Thursday afternoon, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller was still nosing around.