The pope’s visit and U.N. General Assembly won’t exactly turn Manhattan into an urban Fort Knox, but New Yorkers can expect to see beefed-up security.
Those most clued-in to what residents have to say believe New Yorkers are prepared for the changes.
“There isn’t that much talk about the inconvenience,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, the chair of Community Board 1, which oversees downtown Manhattan. “The community is used to high profile visits from different leaders.”
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton conducted several drills with 48 other agencies to test out potential emergency scenarios. De Blasio said he welcomes the “unprecedented” security.
“We want this to be a safe time in our city,” he said last week. “That’s why such extraordinary efforts have been engineered to ensure the safety first of all of His Holiness and all the world leaders, but of course of all New Yorkers and all our visitors as well.”
Part of the security will include closed off streets and checkpoints at locations where the pope will visit, such as the area around St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Madison Square Garden and the World Trade Center. Security will be very tight around the home on East 72nd Street, between Fifth and Madison avenues, where the pope will be staying during his visit on Thursday and Friday.
Jessica Lappin, the president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, said residents and businesses have a good relationship with law enforcement and are used to similar procedures when other dignitaries have visited the World Trade Center.
“It’s going to be inconvenient and disruptive for a few hours, but people are very happy to make that trade off,” she said.
Jim Albert, security chief at 34th Street Partnership, said his staff is ready to help the police by assisting pedestrians with the street closures during the MSG mass on Friday.
“It’s a big event and the PD is used to dealing with these things. There is a terror component to that and that’s factoring into people’s minds,” he said. “People are worried they can’t go down the block, but we will give as much information out there as we can.”