Times Square Security Heightened

Elaborate New Year Plans in New York mean complex security measures also

(Everything2000) Bomb sniffing dogs, police helicopters and closed roadways will greet New York revelers this New Year’s Eve. The 25-hour celebration is expecting two million people and police are taking unprecedented steps to assure safety during the millennium celebration.

Authorities are downplaying ``terrorist hype,'' but at the same time are taking elaborate measures to make sure the nation's biggest party goes off without any problems. Police have code-named their security plan "Archangel" and it will mean some changes for New York revelers this New Year's Eve.

An area of midtown Manhattan will be completely closed to traffic. It's not a small area, it's 24 blocks wide and will all be a pedestrian-only zone. Parking will be banned also. Beginning at midnight on Dec. 30, and private vehicles left there will be towed and impounded. Manhole covers are going to be welded shut in the party area, and as the celebration goes on police helicopters will circle overhead. Six police helicopters will be on duty on New Year's Eve, and all of them will focus their attention on and around Times Square.

As revelers walk through the streets of New York awaiting the ball to fall at midnight bomb-sniffing dogs and an army of police officers will join them. Eight thousand officers, some with bomb-sniffing dogs, will be on duty during the celebration. That's twice the number of police officers usually on hand for the New Year's celebration.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir said they knew of no specific threats against the city, but the recent arrests of people suspected of extremist connections at U.S.-Canada border crossings in Washington and Vermont have heightened fears of terrorist acts timed to the millennium.

``There are no guarantees, but we can take every precaution that's humanly possible,'' Safir told The New York Times. ``I think the public should come to Times Square, and I think they should not be deterred by all this terrorist hype that is going on.''

Manhole covers will be sealed, garbage cans removed and mailboxes locked to remove possible hiding places for explosives. Parking will be banned, beginning at midnight on Dec. 30, and private vehicles left there will be towed and impounded.

City leaders want to make sure they have taken every possible precaution and it seems they have. Mailboxes will be locked shut and garbage cans will be removed because both are possible hiding places for explosives. All these precautions are being taken as preventative measure and city officials expect the party to go on as usual this New Year's Eve.

Source: New York Times

DATE: 12/27/99

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