Garbage trucks block Times Square truck at­tacks

New el­e­ment to an al­ready heav­ily po­liced event

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW YORK:

Mas­sive 20-ton san­i­ta­tion trucks, weighted with an ex­tra 15 tons of sand, will sur­round the iconic New Year’s Eve cel­e­bra­tion in Times Square, of­fi­cials said Thurs­day, de­scrib­ing a se­cu­rity mea­sure meant to stop deadly truck-driv­ing at­tacks into crowds like those in Ger­many and France. The place­ment of the 65 trucks, along with 100 pa­trol cars, at in­ter­sec­tions sur­round­ing Times Square is a new el­e­ment to an al­ready heav­ily po­liced event that will in­clude 7,000 of­fi­cers, spe­cially armed coun­tert­er­ror­ism units and bomb-sniff­ing dogs.

“We live in a chang­ing world now,” New York Po­lice De­part­ment Com­mis­sioner James O’Neil said. “It can’t just be, ‘What hap­pens in New York, what hap­pens in the United States?’ It has to be more, ‘What hap­pens world­wide?’” A Tu­nisian man who plowed a truck into a Christ­mas mar­ket in Ber­lin this month killed 12 peo­ple and in­jured 56 oth­ers. His at­tack fol­lowed a more deadly as­sault in Nice, France, in July that left 86 peo­ple dead when a man drove a 20-ton re­frig­er­ated truck into a crowd cel­e­brat­ing Bastille Day. New York po­lice stud­ied those events in plan­ning their Times Square se­cu­rity.

“As we for­mu­lated this year’s plan, we paid close at­ten­tion to world events and we learned from those events,” said Car­los Gomez, the NYPD’s chief of de­part­ment. More than 1 mil­lion peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend the an­nual ball drop count­down in Man­hat­tan, and of­fi­cials said they didn’t know of any ter­ror threats.

Aug­mented pre­cau­tions

The se­cu­rity mea­sures are part of aug­mented pre­cau­tions across the na­tion for New Year’s Eve. To keep Las Ve­gas’ lav­ish cel­e­bra­tion se­cure, the en­tire po­lice force will be work­ing or on-call with help from the FBI, the Na­tional Guard and the Se­cret Ser­vice and will close roads and beef up bar­ri­ers to pre­vent ve­hi­cle at­tacks.

Times Square rev­el­ers, who are pro­hib­ited from car­ry­ing um­brel­las and large bags, will be screened at two points: once when they ap­proach the Cross­roads of the World and again when they en­ter one of the 65 pens that hold thou­sands of peo­ple each. And, as in past years, of­fi­cials have re­moved trash bins and mail­boxes, sealed man­hole cov­ers and done sweeps of park­ing garages and ho­tels. Po­lice in New York have used trucks as blocker ve­hi­cles be­fore, though never on this scale.

The sand-filled trucks were de­ployed in Novem­ber at the Thanks­giv­ing Day pa­rade and on Elec­tion Day, when they were posted out­side Don­ald Trump’s Trump Tower, at two Man­hat­tan ho­tels and at a con­ven­tion cen­ter used by Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign. In­ves­ti­ga­tors also are re­view­ing the records of truck rental com­pa­nies, said James Waters, chief of the NYPD’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism bureau.

The large trucks aren’t the only of­fer­ing from the De­part­ment of San­i­ta­tion, said Kathryn Gar­cia, the san­i­ta­tion com­mis­sioner. About 280 em­ploy­ees will be on hand to clean up be­tween 40 and 50 tons of de­bris af­ter the ball drops fol­low­ing the 60-sec­ond count­down to 2017, she said. — AP

NEW YORK: A row of New York City po­lice cars is parked along a street in Times Square.—AP

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