NEW YORK — A network of security cameras, license plate readers and weapons sensors intended to protect lower Manhattan from terrorist threats will be expanded to the city's midtown area.
The city will use $24 million in federal grants to install the counterterrorism system in the area that includes such landmarks as Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station and the United Nations, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday.
Bloomberg joined Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and other police officials to make the announcement in the high-tech lower Manhattan command center, where video screens showed live shots from key sites.
The existing network covers a nearly two-square-mile area that includes the New York Stock Exchange, the World Trade Center site and other high-profile buildings and infrastructure. "As a result, the area below Canal Street is now the best-protected financial center in the world," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg and Kelly said the counterterrorism effort was made more urgent by the arrest last month in Denver of Najibullah Zazi on charges of plotting an attack on New York City, possibly a deadly subway bombing.
"Events of the last few weeks underscore the need for us to remain constantly vigilant against another terrorist attack," Kelly said.
Zazi has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.
The midtown security initiative will be in place by 2011, Bloomberg said. He said additional security cameras would be installed and existing cameras operated by private companies would be plugged into the NYPD's network. It would cover the area between 30th and 60th streets.
Police officers and security staffers from private outfits will monitor the stream of information, he said.
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The system is primarily intended as a counterterrorism measure also will be used to fight street crime, Kelly said.