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Feds: Screening Checkpoints, No Fly-Zone For Pope's New York Visit

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Security measures in place for the "unprecedented challenge'' of Pope Francis' visit to New York City this month will include screening checkpoints, airspace restrictions and a ban on balloons, selfie sticks and backpacks at papal events, federal and city officials said Thursday.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Friday, some have expressed concern that the pope's presence could create gridlock on steroids in the city.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the pope's visit, from Sept. 24 to Sept. 26, will be considered a National Special Security Event, meaning the Secret Service will be the lead agency for security planning.

Screening checkpoints will be set up along the route of the pope's motorcade and at events he will attend. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of his motorcade or who have tickets to a papal event will have to undergo airport-style security screenings. Also on a list of more than 25 items banned are weapons, glass or metal bottles, and signs.

Tickets are required to enter the motorcade viewing areas along Fifth Avenue and in Central Park. Authorities said they anticipate long lines.

Feds: Screening Checkpoints, No Fly-Zone For Pope's New York Visit

Francis is to address world leaders at the United Nations, preside over a service at the 9/11 memorial, participate in a procession through Central Park, visit a local school and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden. To see a complete schedule of the pope's upcoming visit, click here.

When it comes to protecting the pope, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is leaving no stone unturned and no detail unexamined, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported. The NYPD has already had a tabletop training exercise to address the visit.

"The idea is to try and identify any deficiencies in our planning for the event," Bratton said.

At the sessions, security experts proposed a list of what ifs, setting crisis scenarios and taking the measure of planned responses, Lamb reported.

The agenda, combined with the pope's habit of going off-script and mixing with crowds raises a lot of concerns, Bratton said.

"It's going to make it very interesting to say the least because he is unpredictable," Bratton said. "Needless to say, it's raising a lot of concerns on our part, naturally, being responsible law enforcement for his safety, but after all he does have God with him, so he's got his own protection."

The police commissioner notes they are taking special measures adding, "I can safely say there's not been a time when we've been so raised up."

The pope advised that New Yorkers are going to have to roll with the security precautions.

"Take the subway and don't take the car," he told CBS2's Andrea Grymes.

And how tight will the security be? Imagine this – the police plan to close over a mile of Central Park West for 19 hours, with no cars going in either direction.

The east-west side streets will be frozen zones too – and that effort is just for the papal procession through Central Park.

A huge swath around St. Patrick's Cathedral will also be ringed with barricades and security checkpoints, and if you are carrying any item deemed to be a potential hazard, it will be confiscated.

Those items include balloons and selfie sticks, as well as umbrellas, bicycles, hard-sided coolers, and even animals other than service dogs.

People who live and work in the area will have to show identification. Rocco Selvaggio works at Olympic Towers, an apartment building right across the street from St. Patrick's.

"They're supposed to fence off the whole area," Selvaggio said. "It's going to be very difficult. It's going to be chaos."

The Rivera family lives in the Olympic Towers, but they'll be leaving when Pope Francis comes to town.

"I'm going to move for that week," said Meiyca Rivera. "It's going to be impossible."

But others who live and work near the cathedral said the inconvenience is worth t.

"You know, it's the pope," said Alex Bautista. "You have to enjoy the visit."

And Sister Michael Mary, when asked how she feels about the fact that it's going to be hard to get around during the pope's visit, simply said. "We do that."

NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism John Miller said earlier this month that because the pope's visit will precede the United Nation's General Assembly and a planned trip of President Barack Obama to New York, police face "one of the most significantly challenging security environments maybe in the history of major policing.''

The airspace around New York City will also be restricted. The Federal Aviation Administration also has enacted a no-fly zone in parts of Manhattan and Queens. FAA regulations will make it illegal to operate a drone anywhere in the city between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30.

There will also be a flotilla of security boats on the Hudson and East rivers.

Officials also advised people with tickets to papal events to allow plenty of time, given the security checkpoints that will likely have long lines.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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