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Tonight, more than 1 million people are expected to make their way into Manhattan for the famous Times Square ball drop. The NYPD has implemented heightened security and a detailed plan of street closures for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration. They have been planning security measures for the ball drop all year, and say that Times Square will be the “safest place in the world” on Sunday night.
On Thursday, James P. O’Neill, the New York City police commissioner, said in a news statement, “There are no direct credible threats to New York City, to Times Square specifically, or to any of our New Year’s Eve events generally. Out of an abundance of caution, however, you’ll see a stronger police presence out there than we’ve seen even in recent years.”
In a statement, Tim Tompkins, the head of the Times Square Alliance, seconded O’Neill’s sentiments. ABC New York reports him as saying, “The NYPD Is amazing, they’ve dealt with this many many years, but they’ve stepped it up a little bit… They have extra vehicle blockers at different intersections and a very heavy undercover presence especially in the hotels, because they learned from Las Vegas.”
Traffic Shut Down
Traffic will be shut down from 37th to 59th streets, 6th to 8th Avenues, beginning at 11am New Year’s Eve. Concrete, blocker cars, and sand trucks will be used to shut down streets.
People should also plan ahead when it comes to parking. All 125 parking garages in that area will be closed and locked, and beginning at 7pm, subway service to Times Square will also stop.
ABC adds that there will be a truck restriction on 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue from 34th street to 59th street.
Heavy Weapons Teams Will Secure the Entryways into Times Square
There are 12 access points to watch the ball drop this year, and each entry-point will have Vapor wake dogs and heavy weapons teams. Vapor wake dogs were sent out for the Thanksgiving Day parade, as well; the dogs are Labrador retrievers who have been trained to pick up the smell of explosive particles.
There will be two checkpoints for those wishing to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Officers will be using metal detector wands and radiation detection devices, according to police, at these checkpoints.
Umbrellas and backpacks will not be allowed this year for revelers; those of you heading in for the ball drop should keep that in mind. (Alcohol is also not permitted, and there are no public restrooms.)
More Than 5,000 Officers Will Be Deployed Around the Area
In previous years, according to The New York Times, more than 5,000 NYPD officers have been deployed in Times Square for security measures. This year, that number will increase.
The NYPD has also said they will be sending rooftop observation teams and counter-snipers into more buildings than usual.
Following the Las Vegas shootings that took the lives of 58 innocent people, the department has asked officers to patrol hotels in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, according to The New York Times.
It’s Predicted to Reach 11° Tonight in Times Square
Those watching the ball drop in person will have to dress warmly this year. It’s predicted that temperatures will reach 11 degrees at midnight in Times Square. USA Today reports Herman Schafer, assistant commissioner for community outreach at NYC Emergency Management, as telling people not to have any skin exposed to the cold air.
Dick Clark’s Primetime New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest will begin airing at 8pm ET for those tuning in at home.