NEW YORK (AP) — New York Metropolis police turned to acquainted techniques forward of Thursday’s New 12 months’s Eve celebrations, deploying bomb-sniffing canines and sand-filled sanitation vans meant to protect towards explosions.
However the division’s playbook this yr consists of an uncommon mandate: stopping crowds of any dimension from gathering in Instances Sq..
Citing issues over the unfold of COVID-19, police closed the Crossroads of the World to automobiles 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 12 months’s Eve can be no totally different. This yr, police stated, revelers headed to Instances Sq. received’t be permitted previous police traces.
“For those who 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 Instances Sq. every New 12 months’s Eve to mark the stroke of midnight.
The NYPD introduced a two-part freeze that may grow to be extra expansive at three p.m. Even company at 5 lodges within the space have been advised to remain inside.
Juanita Holmes, chief of patrol for the NYPD, urged would-be partygoers to ring in 2021 “from the consolation of your house.”
“Coming to Instances Sq. is a household custom for some. It’s a bucket record merchandise for others. However this yr is totally different,” she stated. “I can’t emphasize sufficient how vital it’s for everybody to remain house.”
The Police Division will nonetheless roll out heavy weapons groups, explosive-sniffing canines, drones and sand vans. However it has deliberate a drastically scaled-back presence in Instances Sq., together with an 80% discount in its typical workforce assigned to the world.
“We all the time have to organize for the worst by way of counterterrorism overlays,” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea stated, “however the crowds won’t 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 company, first responders and important staff, had been anticipated to look at the festivities from a non-public, well-spaced space.
“It’s nearly like a ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” Shea stated, invoking the 1990s “present about nothing.”
“This can be a ball drop about nothing, the place you may’t see,” he stated, “so it’s possible you’ll as nicely keep house.”
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