Cities strengthen security ahead of the return of crowded New Year’s Eve celebrations

(CNN) — Major cities, including New York and Chicago, are gearing up for New Year’s Eve celebrations, and strengthened security will be part of the preparations for the holiday.

Times Square Alliance President Tom Harris told CNN that the crowd is expected to return to full capacity for New Year’s Eve for the first time since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in New York.

“We’re so excited to welcome people back, we’re so excited to be back to our new normal,” Harris said on “CNN This Morning” Friday.

“We are so excited that the whole world returns to Times Square at midnight to watch that ball drop so we can look forward to 2023.”

New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a safety briefing Friday that while there is no particular credible threat to New York City or the planned New Year’s Eve celebrations, authorities are prepared for the unexpected.

“Our intelligence analysts, working very closely with the FBI and the joint terror task force, will monitor all flows against any possible threat,” said NYPD Director of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Thomas Galati. There will be “lots of protective measures in place”.

Galati said the NYPD expects to deploy K-9 teams and explosives and drone detection, and that “multi-layered scanning will be used by our counter-terrorism officers deployed at each checkpoint.” Several access points will allow the public to enter the event in Times Square. Banned items included umbrellas, chairs, blankets, backpacks and alcohol, NYPD Deputy Chief James McCarthy said.

According to Galati, protective measures will include heavy weapons teams, bomb disposal teams and teams monitoring more than 1,000 cameras.

“At this time, there are no particular credible threats to New York City or to our events surrounding New Year’s Eve,” said Sewell. However, I ask the public to always be vigilant,” he said.

Sewell added that the NYPD and local public safety agencies “will have a visible presence, but they will also be in the crowd so people don’t know exactly who is there.”

Alongside the “thousands of uniformed police officers” at the Times Square event, additional police would be assigned to patrol entire neighborhoods, streets and subways, Sewell said.

“For the last 364 days, we’ve been working with New York City, our production team, and our partners at Countdown Entertainment to make this moment where we can bring everyone back to Times Square,” Harris said. non-profit group responsible for organizing the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Tightened security measures will also be implemented for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Chicago.

According to Police Superintendent David Brown, the Chicago Police Department will deploy an additional 1,300 police officers to ensure neighborhoods and high-traffic areas are “closed and safe” as the city prepares for the celebrations.

Brown said the department has developed a “comprehensive safety plan” for the fireworks incident at Navy Pier, and that officers will appear in all of the city’s retail corridors and residential areas. Officers will also be deployed on foot and bike in Chicago’s entertainment district and throughout the city.

“We will do everything we can to keep everyone safe, but we also need our residents and visitors to do their best to celebrate responsibly. Be careful with each other and please call 911 if you see anything suspicious or unsafe,” said the inspector. emphasizing that celebratory gunfire is illegal in Chicago.

Buffalo celebrates after mass shooting and deadly snowstorm

Every new year begins with celebrations around the world, with crowds filled with loved ones celebrating the start of a new chapter under a night sky illuminated by fireworks.

But celebrations won’t be easy for everyone as the United States leaves behind a year of tragedies and unimaginable losses.

In Buffalo, where a 19-year-old White man killed 10 people and injured three in a racist attack on a grocery store in a Black-dominated neighborhood in May, a new year will outweigh entering a new year without many beloved community members.
A week after another tragedy – the historic blizzard that killed dozens of residents – Buffalo will resume as planned with New Year’s Eve celebrations, including the annual ball drop.

“This year’s Ball Drop will be more reflective,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference. “2022 has been a challenging year and we will accept it. It has been a painful year for all of us. We are moving towards 2023 as a resilient community.”

The mayor will celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo, and the festivities will feature “moments of reflection, moments of prayer, moments of recognition,” adding that thousands are expected to attend.

CNN’s Travis Nichols, Zenebou Sylla, and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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