By Ali Bauman

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This is one of the busiest times of year for the NYPD Bomb Squad.

CBS2’s Ali Bauman recently rode along with the unit and has an exclusive look at how it is keeping New Yorkers safe during the holiday season.

Even when you don’t see it, the Bomb Squad is always watching for that unsuspecting threat.

“The most difficult part of the job is you never know what’s coming at you,” Lt. Mark Torre said.

Torre is the commanding officer, overseeing the unit during this holiday season when tourists flock to Manhattan, leading up to the squad’s single biggest event, New Year’s Eve.

“We went from last year not having to do too much because of all the those things that were shut down, more or less back to a normal routine,” Torre said.

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“Routine” means responding to and assessing suspicious packages, which have been more prevalent than ever, as well as doing daily sweeps for explosives in hot spots like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and, of course, Times Square on Dec. 31.

“We’ll do the whole area before anybody gets there. Then we’re there the whole night. As packages come up, if packages come up, we handle them,” said NYPD Det. and bomb technician Dennis Grimm.

CBS2’s Ali Bauman wears an NYPD Bomb Squad protective suit. (Photo: CBS2)

Grimm will be surveilling Times Square long before the ball drops with his explosives-detecting canine, Moore.

“There’s no technology that can beat their nose. They’ve tried and it has never worked,” Grimm said.

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When there is a suspicious package, bomb technicians respond wearing a protective 100-pound suit.

“It’s kind of wrapping you in a glove of protection against overpressure, should a device function in your proximity and fragmentation. It’s a dual protective device,” Torre said.

Once Bauman was in the suit, every inch of her skin was covered except for her hands, which were exposed so her fingers would have the dexterity needed to deal with potentially explosive devices.

For highly perilous situations, the squad will deploy a bomb-defusing robot.

“So this one has never been used before at a job?” Bauman asked.

“It hasn’t been deployed on an event,” Torre said.

From a distance, technicians can safely use the robot to dismantle most explosives.

“It moves very, very similarly to how your arm or hand would move,” Torre said.

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With all the tools in its arsenal, the lieutenant said the squad’s biggest asset is experience. Its last major job was the Chelsea bombing in 2016.

“I think that you should be very comfortable about the very robust response capability of your Bomb Squad here,” Torre said.

It will be making sure New York rings in the New Year safe and sound.

The Bomb Squad’s canines and other police animals are featured in this year’s NYPD calendar. For more information, please click here.

Ali Bauman