Jets and Troops to Help Patrol NYC on July 4th
Detailing plans to safeguard the city against terror during the Fourth of July, officials say they will deploy about 4,000 police officers, including about 1,600 in civilian clothes, to join soldiers and fighter jets patrolling the streets, rivers and skies.
Pedestrians may be frisked for weapons, and cars and bags will be subject to search. Police officers, some with counterterrorism expertise, will mix with the crowds in the city, a police official said. More than 2,000 National Guard troops will be on duty at locations around the state, including the city's bridges, tunnels and train stations, Gov. George E. Pataki said.
Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities said there was no specific or credible threat of a terrorist attack on Independence Day, but federal authorities have secretly alerted local agencies to the possibility of an attack. Landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations and the Empire State Building, among others, will receive extra attention from the authorities, officials said.
"We have special, directed patrols of our harbor units, our aviation units," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday at Brooklyn Technical High School as 1,978 police recruits were sworn in. "We do have a group of heavily armed officers that we move throughout the city based on direction from our intelligence division."
A protective no-fly zone is in place around the Statue of Liberty, extending one nautical mile around the statue (6,076 feet) and 1,500 feet up from the ground, said Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Thousands of revelers trying to see the fireworks will have to pass through one of 14 police checkpoints between East Houston Street and East 53rd Street in Manhattan.
Large crowds are expected along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive to watch the annual fireworks display, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is expected to attend that show as well as a parade in Staten Island that begins earlier in the day, said Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary.
City health officials, the Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Management will work with the Police Department to prepare for any emergencies. Police officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will work 12-hour shifts, and officers from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will increase patrols at subway and train terminals and use a variety of tactics, including dogs that sniff for explosives, said John W. Scanlon, the director of the New York State Office of Public Security.
In the skies, combat air patrols, combined with radar coverage, will provide a defense against threats, said Lt. Col. Michael T. Halbig, a Defense Department spokesman.
On the ground, some police officers will be equipped with portable radiation detectors and others will be armed with powerful guns, one police official said. Officers posted at bridges and tunnels to check for drunken drivers will also do security work, and rapid-response teams of officers will be moving throughout the city, prepared to respond to any problem that may arise, the official said. Traffic cameras already in place will be used to monitor the crowds.
Fire Department units are also being equipped with radiation-detection devices.
The National Guard's Second Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) will be on duty, as they are every day of the year, officials said.