NEW YORK – New York Metropolis police turned to acquainted ways forward of Thursday’s New Yr’s Eve celebrations, deploying bomb-sniffing canine and sand-filled sanitation vans supposed to protect towards explosions.
However the division’s playbook this yr consists of an uncommon mandate: stopping crowds of any measurement from gathering in Occasions Sq..
Citing considerations over the unfold of COVID-19, police closed the Crossroads of the World to autos and pedestrians at midnight and stated they might disperse any onlookers venturing right into a so-called “frozen zone” — the blocks surrounding the ball that traditionally draw shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.
The coronavirus has upended public life for months, and New Yr’s Eve shall be no completely different. This yr, police stated, revelers headed to Occasions Sq. will not be permitted previous police traces.
“When you suppose you’re going to have the ability to stand there and watch the ball, you’re mistaken,” Chief of Division Terence Monahan stated, referring to the glittering, crystal ball that descends down a flagpole in Occasions Sq. every New Yr’s Eve to mark the stroke of midnight.
The NYPD introduced a two-part freeze that may develop into extra expansive at 3 p.m. Even visitors at 5 lodges within the space have been instructed to remain inside.
Juanita Holmes, chief of patrol for the NYPD, urged would-be partygoers to ring in 2021 “from the consolation of your own home.”
“Coming to Occasions Sq. is a household custom for some. It’s a bucket record merchandise for others. However this yr is completely different,” she stated. “I can’t emphasize sufficient how vital it’s for everybody to remain residence.”
The Police Division will nonetheless roll out heavy weapons groups, explosive-sniffing canine, drones and sand vans. However it has deliberate a drastically scaled-back presence in Occasions Sq., together with an 80% discount in its typical workforce assigned to the realm.
“We at all times have to organize for the worst by way of counterterrorism overlays,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea stated, “however the crowds is not going to be like they had been in different years.”
This yr’s celebration will unfold with out the standard throngs of cheering, kissing revelers. Certainly, the occasion’s particular visitors, first responders and important staff, had been anticipated to look at the festivities from a non-public, well-spaced space.
“It’s virtually like a ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” Shea stated, invoking the Nineteen Nineties “present about nothing.”
“It is a ball drop about nothing, the place you may’t see,” he stated, “so it’s possible you’ll as effectively keep residence.”
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