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NYC July 4 fireworks security: Heavy police presence expected at Macy's event

While there is no "specific credible threat," police will mobilize bomb squad teams, critical response teams with long rifles and chemical and radiation detectors.

New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill,

New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill, center, discusses safety and security measures for the Macy's July Fourth fireworks show on Friday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The 2 million spectators expected to mass along the East River to watch the Macy's July Fourth fireworks display will be guarded by over 6,000 uniformed and plainclothes cops, special bomb-sniffing dogs and over 100 vehicles positioned to protect the viewing area, officials said Friday.

As it does every year, the NYPD will be pulling out all the stops to protect what Deputy Commissioner John Miller said is a “symbolic American holiday” requiring a massive show of force.

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill joined Miller and other NYPD officials in announcing the security plans during a news conference at police headquarters.

The four spectator access points on Manhattan’s East Side FDR Drive — Houston, 23rd, 34th and 42nd streets — will be guarded by heavily armed cops and “vapor wake” dogs — canines specially trained to sniff out explosives in large crowds, Miller said.

While emphasizing that there was no “specific credible threat” from terrorism directed at the event, Miller said the NYPD was putting up a full security package with bomb squad teams and critical response teams with long rifles. Chemical and radiation detectors in the air, on the ground and on police boats are also expected to be used.

"It is a complex package, but that is part of the new normal," Miller said of the preparations.

Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said that large coolers, lounge chairs, blankets and umbrellas will not be allowed in the East River viewing area, although certain smaller coolers and backpacks will be, subject to police searches. The fireworks are scheduled to start at about 9:25 p.m. and should be finished at 9:55 p.m., Harrison said.

The NYPD will also use more than 100 blocking cars and sand trucks to seal off streets to prevent any ramming vehicles from getting close to the viewing area, Harrison said.

In addition to Manhattan, Harrison said spectators will be able to view the show in Brooklyn, notably at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Domino Park and the Promenade, as well as in Queens at Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park. Security will also be in place at these locations.

Miller said that his staff has shared information with authorities in France, where the driver of a cargo truck deliberately drove into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice two years ago, killing 86 people.

NYPD officials have also in recent weeks visited businesses near the East Side to remind people to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity.

O’Neill’s advice to the public was simple Friday: “Come by and see the fireworks show and additionally pay attention, pay attention to what is going on around you. If you see something, or somebody that doesn’t look right…call 911, flag down a cop.”


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