Times Square in US to be the ‘safest place in the world’ on New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2015 7:40 am

 

Police
Commissioner William Bratton said there were no credible threats to New
York ahead of the holiday. Photo / Richard Robinson

Officials have sought to assure revelers that the New Year’s Eve
celebration in Times Square will be the safest place in the world –
heavily secured by thousands of New York Police Department officers,
including a new specialised counter-terrorism unit.
“Leave the
worrying to the NYPD,” said James O’Neill, chief of the department.
“People should feel safest this New Year’s Eve because we’re there.”
Police
Commissioner William Bratton said there were no credible threats to the
city ahead of the holiday. Yet officials also acknowledged that there
were limits to what they could do to ensure security, especially outside
the tightly controlled blocks at the heart of the celebration. In much
of the city, the focus will be on fast responses to any emergency rather
than preventive measures like security checkpoints.
“The ability to protect everything all the time everywhere is not possible in any venue anywhere in the world,” Bratton said.

About 1 million people are expected to pack the blocks around
Times Square to watch the 5,400kg Waterford crystal ball drop.
Party-goers trying to get close enough to see and hear the musical acts
that perform throughout the evening will be screened with hand-held
metal detectors twice -once when they enter one of the 14 access points
to the secure zone and once when they enter pens where they must stay
lest they lose their spots.
Outside that zone, revelers and vehicles can come and go as they please.
At
least 6,000 patrol officers will be assigned to the festivities.
Visitors will see heavily armed counter-terrorism teams and
bomb-sniffing dogs.
The bomb squad and a unit specialising in
chemical and biological threats will sweep hotels, theaters,
construction sites and parking garages. They also will patrol the Times
Square subway station, and certain exits will be blocked off. The NYPD
will rely on a network of thousands of closed-circuit security cameras
blanketing lower Manhattan, parts of midtown Manhattan and the subway
system. About 20,000 smartphones were handed out to officers this year
that will allow police to quickly transmit information on potential
threats.
And this year, a specialised counter-terrorism unit of 500 highly trained officers will be deployed to respond to any emergency.
The
unit was first formed after attacks in January at the French satirical
weekly Charlie Hebdo. Bratton said the department is constantly evolving
based on new information as well as the recent attacks in Paris and San
Bernardino, California.
Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Wiz
Khalifa, Charlie Puth and Demi Lovato are among the musical guests
schedule to perform this year. When the clock strikes midnight and the
ball drops, so will 1 tonne of confetti – scraps of paper with well
wishes for the upcoming year.
After the show, sanitation crews
will get to work cleaning up from the celebration, working through the
night to dispose of an estimated 50 tonnes of garbage, including
confetti, party hats and other leftovers from the revelry.

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