The NYPD is ready for 1 million visitors to welcome the New Year in Times Square, packing streets for 14 blocks to Central Park, police officials said Wednesday.
"We do have thousands of cops. Times Square is going to be a very safe place to be tonight," NYPD Chief James P. O'Neil said.
Four firework displays were planned in the city on Wednesday night as was a race in Central Park.
Police officials said planning for New Year's Eve was a yearlong endeavor. Set up on Wednesday began at 4 a.m. with visitors arriving at 8 a.m. By evening, all of the designated pens for visitors were filled up to 50th Avenue.
Police received no specific threats to Times Square, but counterterrorism officers scanned the area for any suspicious activity or threats, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Wednesday evening. K9 units and officers searched subway tunnels, which were limited around Times Square.
NYPD officers also readied for ongoing protests, which began Dec. 3 after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict the officer who apparently used a banned chokehold on Eric Garner, who died.
"We know there are several protests planned in area and we feel more than capable of dealing with those if and when they do occur," Bratton said.
Though most of last month's protests were peaceful, NYPD detectives have weeded out about 80 online threats toward officers. The threats have resulted in 15 arrests, Bratton said.
Bratton also defended reports that NYPD arrests were down last month, noting that crime had dropped this week by 15 percent compared to the same period last year.
He said the police force has had to use an additional 50,000 patrols to staff protests.
"That's 50,000 fewer cops who have been out there this month making arrests, issuing summonses," Bratton said. "We've also, as you're well aware, we're at a weeklong period of mourning . . . funeral last week of Officer Ramos attended by over 25,000 personnel, and we have the one coming up Saturday and Sunday for Officer Liu. So in terms of some of that drop off, that's to be anticipated."
With Dan Rivoli