From New York to Las Vegas, Manchester to Melbourne, cities that have been subjected to recent mass violence will be on particularly high alert as throngs of revelers gather to celebrate the arrival of 2018. An Australian police chief might have been speaking for his counterparts around the world when he said, “We will basically lock down the center of the city.”
Major cities across the globe–especially those still on edge from recent terrorist attacks–are planning extraordinary security measures as revelers gather Sunday on New Year’s Eve.
In New York, concrete barriers, explosives-sniffing dogs and armed cops in surrounding hotels will be in place when police lock down Times Square for the annual ball drop ceremony, says the New York Daily News. Eight weeks ago, an accused terrorist killed eight people by driving a rented truck onto a pedestrian walkway in lower Manhattan.
NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said there has been “no direct credible threats to Times Square.” He added, “Out of an abundance of caution, however, you will see a stronger police presence out there.”
In Australia, where a deranged man plowed into a crowd of Christmas shoppers in Melbourne on Dec. 21, injuring 18, authorities planned stepped-up security in most major cities, including Melbourne, Sydney and Victoria. A million revelers are expected at the annual extravaganza in the center of Sydney, where dozens of officers armed with Colt M4 semi-automatic rifles will be on duty, according to the Guardian.
In Victoria, the police chief said, “We will basically lock down the center of the city.”
In Las Vegas, which is expecting a throng of more than 300,000 people for an annual New Year’s Eve event billed as “America’s Party,” federal officials have classified the night as a top safety priority.
Federal law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security and the FBI, are working closely with the 1,500 local cops expected to be on duty. Security enhancements will include police snipers on hotel rooftops and an FBI hostage rescue team on standby. Three hundred National Guard members also will be deployed.
“I’m confident that every available resource is being used to make sure this New Year’s Eve will be safe,” said Sheriff Joseph Lombardo.
On Oct. 1, Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds.
In Britain, undercover cops, armed police patrols, dog units and vehicle barriers were being prepared in London, Manchester and other cities across the Midlands and North. The preparations come after ISIS threats made on a propaganda poster to unleash “New Year’s Eve ‘hell'” in London, reports the Sun.
London expects 100,000 ticket-holders to watch the annual firework spectacle on the banks of the Thames. Scotland Yard advised people without a ticket to stay away and watch “from the comfort and warmth of your home.”
London was hit by four major terrorist incidents in 2017, including March’s attack on the Palace of Westminster, in which five people were killed, and June’s attack at London Bridge, which left eight people dead, including three terrorists. In May, 23 people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Ramadan Abedi detonated a bomb at the Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert.
Most European capitals had already stepped up security during the Christmas season and will carry that over to New Year’s Eve.
France earlier this year called off the state of emergency that had been in place since a series of terrorist attacks there in 2015. The country adopted new counter-terrorism protocols two months ago.
Paris was planning an increased police presence in the places that traditionally draw crowds, including the Champs-Elysees, where more than 600,000 people typically gather on New Year’s Eve.
David J. Krajicek is a contributing editor of The Crime Report. He welcomes readers’ comments.