New York terror fears: NYC ramps up security for New Year’s Eve over suicide bomber threat

The move comes over fears of a potential attack in light of the attempted Times Square subway bombing on December 11.

The extra measures are on top of the already tight security for the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations since the attacks on September 11, 2001.

Deploying observation teams trained to spot snipers, an increase in dogs able to detect explosives and putting more officers in the area, are amongst the measures that have been announced by officials.

Police have said they will incorporate lessons learned from what they have labeled as three terrorist attacks in the city in the past 15 months, in addition to their ongoing analysis of all attacks worldwide.

That intelligence will form part of the massive security operation for the “ball drop” celebration, a tradition that dates to 1907 and is now televised around the world.

The New York Police Department’s chief of counterterrorism James Waters told a news conference: “You will see an increase in heavy weapons, bomb squad personnel, radiological detection teams, and our technology to include over 1,000 cameras in and around the area of Times Square for the event.”

He added: “We owe it to the cops to give them some kind of guidelines.”

Officers deployed on the day will receive a tactical bulletin and a training video on suicide bombers that they will be able to review on their department-issued phones starting today.

The instructions will include information on how to protect bystanders if officers suspect someone has a bomb and guidance on how to apprehend and disarm a suspect with the assistance of the bomb squad.

In response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, when a 64-year-old American opened fired form his 32nd floor hotel room on people attending a music festival, police will also be vigilant for possible snipers.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said officers will be posted in hotels to keep a watch on guests and extra emergency service personnel and critical response teams will be on hand.

Mr O‘Neill declined to say how many of the department’s 36,000 officers will work on New Year’s Eve, in an attempt to keep would-be attackers guessing.

People who want to see the New Year’s Eve musical acts and other entertainment in Times Square will have to pass by dogs trained to detect explosives and heavily armed officers, go through a magnetometer to check for weapons, have their bags inspected, and then repeat all those steps a second time.

Police will again use dump trucks filled with sand, police cars and cement blocks to close streets starting at 11am on Sunday.

About 125 parking garages in the vicinity will be emptied of all cars and sealed.

Police acknowledged a possible suicide bomber could manage to get close to large crowds of people before the checkpoints are set up, as evident by the December 11 attack.

On that day, police said, a Bangladeshi man set off a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a subway pedestrian tunnel beneath Times Square, wounding himself and two bystanders.

Asked how to stop someone with such an intent, Mr Waters said, “As a last resort: deadly physical force.”