Mayor Bill de Blasio and police department brass promised “multiple layers of security” to make Times Square one of the safest venues in the world during the New Year’s Eve ball drop.
“What I want everyone to take away from our preparation is this: People will be safe this New Year’s Eve because we’re there along with our law enforcement partners,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill on Wednesday. “We’re going to have one of the most well-policed, best-protected events in one of the safest venues in the entire world.”
Almost two million revelers will flood Times Square throughout the day. Close to 7,000 police officers will be dedicated to that area as well as other related events throughout the city. De Blasio praised the NYPD’s experience in securing the event, and others like it, in the past. But there will be several new elements for the holiday this year.
The NYPD will add more “blocker trucks” to its New Year’s Eve Times Square security plans this year. There will also be 65 Department of Sanitation garbage and sand trucks and another 100 NYPD vehicles that will be strategically placed around the area to serve as road blocks.
The move comes in light of the recent terror attacks around the world, including Berlin and Nice, where motor vehicles were weaponized. A similar blocker strategy was used for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the officials said, where trucks are set up on the street to prevent someone from driving into the area.
“It’s a changing world,” O’Neill said. “This is something that will be part of the future.”
These efforts are precautionary and there is no suggestion that the event will be targeted, according to the officials. Visitors will be screened at different checkpoints, both when they enter the Times Square area and then again when they enter one of the 65 pedestrian pens that will be established from Times Square all the way up to 59th Street. Partiers are advised to leave banned items, like umbrellas, backpacks and other large bags, at home.
"This will be a very well protected event, probably the most protected event with multiple layers of security," said NYPD Chief of Department Carlos Gomez.
There will also be additional transit officers deployed at checkpoints in subway stations around the Times Square area.
“Everything we see happening in the street will be happening in our subways,” said Joseph Fox, NYPD Chief of Transit Bureau, of the department's security measures.
Both 57th and 59th streets will be closed to vehicular traffic between Sixth and Eighth avenues — a new development for this year’s festivities. Gomez said 57th Street will close in the “early afternoon," but did not provide a specific time. The stretch of 59th Street will close when the crowd swell is large enough to warrant opening pens farther uptown.
The area from 42nd to 47th streets, between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, will closed to traffic about 3 p.m., according to the Times Square Alliance.
Performers for the Times Square event include Rachel Platten, Gloria Estefan and Mariah Carey. Revelers are expected to start arriving in the area around late afternoon, according to the Times Square Alliance.