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 3.05m 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.”