By Michael Edison Hayden and Aaron Katersky, ABC News
New York City officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Chief James P. O’Neill, made it crystal clear today that they aren’t taking any chances when it comes to securing the city for its New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Sixty-five sand trucks and 100 blocker vehicles are among the “extraordinary assets” the NYPD today said it will deploy around Times Square Dec. 31.
(Up to two million people are expected to pack into New York City’s Times Square to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. Courtesy of CBS News and YouTube)
That’s more security than in previous years and is meant partly to deter the kind of rogue-vehicle attacks used by ISIS-inspired terrorists in Berlin shortly before Christmas and in Nice, France, in July, officials said.
The added caution is highlighted in a law enforcement bulletin obtained by ABC News before Christmas that included input from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the NYPD, indicating that despite no specific threats associated with New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city, concerns persist about lone-wolf attacks, a growing phenomenon in the landscape of global terrorism.
“[There is] no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to or associated with the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2017 celebration in New York City … however, we remain concerned about unaffiliated lone offenders and homegrown violent extremists targeting the event,” the bulletin said.
(Following terror attacks in Europe where trucks were driven into crowds of people, the NYPD is taking more precaution and adding a new security layer. Courtesy of CBS this Morning and YouTube)
Thousands of officers will also be used in the security efforts, including heavily armed Critical Response Command officers, and new recruits who just graduated Wednesday from the police academy, officials said.
Helicopters will hover above, boats will be used in the Hudson and East Rivers that flank the borough of Manhattan and officers will be perched on rooftops.
The revelers, who will be funneled into segregated viewing pens through 12 different access points, will not be allowed to bring umbrellas or large bags into Times Square.
Commissioner O’Neill assured the public that “no direct concerns” related to Times Square in particular or New Year’s Eve celebrations generally factored into the security plans.
(New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill say the Big Apple is ready to protect the expected two million New Year’s Eve celebrants. Courtesy of the Associated Press and YouTube)
De Blasio, who spoke with pride today about the city’s ability to host large events, stressed that people should be prepared to speak up if they see something suspicious, and repeated the familiar post-9/11 refrain, “If you see something, say something.”
Referring to the million-plus visitors expected to attend the ceremony through cold and potentially inclement weather, he joked warmly that he “wasn’t sure why” they wanted to attend the event.
ABC News reported earlier this week that this year’s version of the Times Square Ball — a 12,000-pound ornament covered by 2,688 crystal triangles and illuminated by more than 32,000 LED lights in different colors — was readying for its journey into Times Square.