Securing the area around President-elect Donald Trump’s New York City residence is being called an “unprecedented challenge.” Roadblocks, concrete barriers and police officers now surround Trump Tower, a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in one of the busiest parts of Manhattan.
“The biggest challenge is trying to blend the two things that we have to make work as a police department: one is securing the president of the United States when he’s in New York, or right now, the president-elect. And the other is, doing it on what could be a very regular basis, at what we consider practically the center of the earth, which is 57th Street and Fifth Avenue,” said John Miller, NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism and former CBS News senior correspondent.
NYPD officers have been assigned to security posts around the property and have to assist Secret Service at screening checkpoints, managing barriers to control vehicle access.
“First thing you’ve got to do is figure out, what were the traffic laws there in the first place? And you know, one thing I learned was Fifth Avenue is a no commercial traffic street. It just wasn’t very enforced because it’s kind of a live-and-let-live environment,” Miller said. “So you’re going to see strict enforcement there. We’re going to lose a block of 56th Street, but you know, this is New York City. We’ve lost a block for water main explosions and we always work around it.”
Miller also said the fact that the president-elect’s wife, Melania Trump, and her 10-year-old son, Barron, are not moving to the White House until “right after [Barron] finishes school,” per Mr. Trump, should not change the security picture.
“The big footprint here is the president-elect or the president. Whoever that is, when they move, it comes with a lot of moving parts,” Miller said.
In addition the president-elect’s security, Miller has his eyes on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday. On Nov. 11, the ISIS propaganda magazine, “Rumiyah,” suggested the parade would be an “excellent target” for a terror attack. The magazine features a “Just Terror Tactics” section focused on vehicular attacks, pointing to the July 16 truck attack in Nice, France, which killed 86 and injured 434.
“I think what you’re seeing here is that [ISIS] is still struggling with complex external attacks in the U.S., or their ability to launch them,” Miller said. “But what they’re asking anybody who’s following their propaganda to do, is something low-tech, low-cost and potentially high impact. So the idea of renting a big truck and ramming it into crowds is something that they find attractive.”
But this not news for the New York Police Department.
“For the last several years, we have had blocker cars at every intersection on that route, very much the way we do when the president of the United States moves through town. … You take the route and you make it basically sterile to outside traffic,” Miller said.
The department has ordered 81 sand trucks as part of the security plan.
“You can ram a New York City Sanitation Department sand trucks with a lot of things, but you’re not going to move it,” Miller said.