The level of security and preparation that goes with saying goodbye to one year and hello to the next might be a familiar story for many who watch the ball drop at Times Square from the comfort of their homes. What’s new this year is that the New York Police Department will be flying tethered drones and using counter-drone technology.
“We’ll be deploying NYPD drones for overwatch,” John Miller, NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism, said in a Friday news conference. “We haven’t done that before, but that’s going to give us a visual aid and a flexibility of being able to move a camera over to a certain spot with great rapidity through a tremendous crowd.”
As crowds pack Times Square to capacity, there will be more than 1,225 cameras capturing the event from strategic points. Times Square has been cordoned off, and thousands of law enforcement personnel, including the bomb squad and K9 officers, protect one of the most closely watched areas in the world.
“There is no credible, specific threat on Times Square this New Year’s Eve, but the NYPD will be constantly vigilant,” tweeted New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio. “The NYPD does great work, and you can help them: if you see something, say something. It’s not just a slogan – it saves lives.”
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said that drone enthusiasts should leave their equipment at home, or they will be arrested. He also said that “as of right now there are no credible of specific threats directed at our New Year’s events.”
“There are millions of eyes and ears out there that night, and if anyone sees something that doesn’t look right, that makes them feel uncomfortable, we need to know about it,” he said. “Call 911 or the city’s counterterrorism hotline 1-888-NYC-SAFE.”