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NYPD preparing for Israel-Hamas war protesters to attempt to disrupt New Year's Eve in Times Square, Mayor Adams says

NYPD gearing up to keep people safe in Times Square on New Year's Eve
NYPD gearing up to keep people safe in Times Square on New Year's Eve 02:25

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams spoke Tuesday about increased security for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square.

The mayor said there have been nearly 500 protests in New York City since the Israel-Hamas war began and City Hall is bracing for at least one more before the year is out.

Combine that with thousands of tourists gathering in Times Square to watch the ball drop and the NYPD will have a big challenge on its hands.

With "2024" now nestled on its perch in the Crossroads of the World, police are counting down to New Year's Eve.

"It's a real Herculean task to manage that number of people without being heavy handed but being protective," Adams said.

The mayor said he is bracing for the possibility of protests on New Year's Eve, especially considering that pro-Palestinian demonstrators interrupted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and attempted to interrupt the Rockefeller Center tree lighting in the wake of Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

"And we're sure there's gonna be some type of attempt this year," Adams said.

He said the NYPD will rely on different forms of technology to patrol the crowds.

But even before the regular protests began, last year in Times Square three police officers were attacked by a machete-wielding tourist on New Year's Eve. That suspect has since been charged with attempted murder.

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The mayor said the department is analyzing its response from last year to improve its tactics for any similar threats.

"There's something that's known in policing, particularly when there's terrorist action of secondary devices and things like they want to draw attention from one area to another. We're really exercising our mental muscles to make sure that does not happen," Adams said.

The mayor, a former NYPD officer, himself, said he believes the department is now at a disadvantage with protests, after the city settled a lawsuit earlier this year that changes the way police can respond to mass demonstrations.

"The police department has to be extremely more hesitant in actions that they would've carried out in the past to keep the peace," Adams said.

This year, the Times Square Alliance is working with the NYPD, along with private security and federal authorities to prepare for the world-famous countdown.

"If you're going to come and try to disrupt the event, you're probably not gonna be successful, and if you are, you're gonna be arrested, so stay home and protest someplace else," said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance.

Thousands of NYPD officers will be patrolling in and out of uniform.

"The variety of tools, whether robots, drones, bomb-sniffing dogs, all those things are in play," said former NYPD deputy commissioner Richard Esposito. "They're gonna be on alert for something different than we've had in the past, but they are mostly concerned that the people who go out, enjoy their night, and they want to keep the protests and the freedom of speech from interfering with other people's freedom of enjoying themselves."

The whole area in and around Times Square will become a frozen zone by noon on New Year's Eve. So by the time the celebrations get started, anyone trying to get into the area will have to go through layers of police checkpoints and security screenings.

The NYPD said there are no credible threats to the city for New Year's Eve. It will have a press briefing later this week with more details on its deployment for this year's festivities.

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