Thousands upon thousands of people are expected to pack into New York’s Times Square for the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop, as they have for more than a century. But this year will mark the first that the city’s officials will deploy drone technology as part of its increased security.
The measure will be part of a counter-terror initiative that also incorporates “counter-drone technology,” Bloomberg reported Friday, noting there was no known credible threat ahead of Monday’s event. Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said during a press briefing this week that drones would work alongside other security measures and technology, including 1,225 portable and stationary cameras.
“What’s different this year is the counter-drone technology and the drone factor,” Miller said. “We’ll be deploying NYPD drones for overwatch. 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 to a certain spot with great rapidity through a tremendous crowd.”
According to the New York Post, at least one of the NYPD’s drones “will be tethered to the top of a building to prevent potential attacks.” NBC News reported that this precaution was also in place to protect the crowd below in case of a malfunction.
Citing Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, Bloomberg reported that thousands of NYPD officers on duty during New Year’s Eve will mean that nobody “will be more than 10 feet away from a uniformed or undercover plain clothes officer.” Helicopters, blocker vehicles, and bomb-sniffing police dogs will reportedly also be part of the NYPD’s boosted security, according to NBC News.
“The NYPD routinely does a great job of planning and securing large-scale events around New York City,” O’Neill said in a statement about this year’s security measures. “Nothing in our profession is done alone, however, and our members work hand-in-hand with our law-enforcement partners—including the FBI, the New York State Police, the MTA Police, and many others—all throughout the year in preparation.”