Thousands of cops, street closures, more ahead of 2020 ball drop
NEW YORK - New York City’s counterterrorism czar expects Times Square to be "the safest place on the planet Earth" on New Year’s Eve.
Thousands of police officers are on duty for Tuesday night's festivities, along with specialized units armed with long guns, bomb-sniffing dogs and other measures.
For the first time, police drones are expected to keep watch over the big, confetti-filled celebration — a year late after rain grounded the department's unmanned eye-in-the-sky last year.
This year's forecast calls for some clouds, but no rain and none of the bitter cold that iced out spectators two years ago.
The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism, John Miller, said stacking various security tools and techniques gives police “multiple chances to catch something coming through.”
“Times Square is probably going to be the safest place on the planet Earth on New Year's Eve because nobody else puts that kind of effort into an event like this,” Miller said.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said there are no specific, credible threats to the event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people to midtown Manhattan and attracts millions of TV viewers. Post Malone, BTS and Alanis Morissette are scheduled to perform on stages in the heart of Times Square.
Shea said spectators should feel safe but encouraged them to remain vigilant and alert an officer or call a police hotline if they feel something is amiss.
“This is going to be one of the most well-policed, well-protected celebrations in the entire world and we'll have another safe and enjoyable New Year's Eve,” Shea said.
Get breaking news alerts in the FOX5NY News app. It is FREE!
Streets in and around Times Square will be closed to car traffic hours before the ball drops and police cars and sand-filled sanitation trucks will be positioned to stop vehicles from driving into the crowd.
Everyone showing up for the confetti-filled festivities should expect to be wanded with metal detectors before being ushered to one of 65 viewing pens set up around Times Square to prevent overcrowding.
Backpacks, chairs and coolers are banned, as well as personal drones. And don’t think about popping champagne or lifting a Maddog 20/20 to ring in 2020. The NYPD says alcohol is strictly prohibited.
There aren’t any bathrooms, and anyone leaving won’t be allowed back to their original spot.
A Chinese dance performance, punctuated with red and gold pyrotechnics, will usher in a host of stars.
The throng of revelers in the heart of Manhattan will get to see rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette during the big street party.
While giddiness will likely prevail at the televised event, some important global issues will be driven home, as well.
High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, will press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to next year.
Then comes the 3,000 pounds (1,360 kg) of confetti, accompanied by more pyrotechnics.
The outdoor temperature will be around the low to mid-40s, practically balmy when compared to some other years.
Some revelers are sure to end up featured on Ryan Seacrest’s “Rockin’ Eve” broadcast, especially if they're wearing those kitschy “2020” glasses, but there's a good chance everyone in Times Square will be caught on one camera or another.
Police will be monitoring more than 1,000 security cameras, along with feeds from police helicopters and drones.
Several of the NYPD’s drones are equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and strong camera lenses that can greatly magnify a subject. Since last year's New Year's Eve rainout, they've been used at other big events in the city, such as the Women's March and St. Patrick’s Day Parade.