EXCLUSIVE | NYPD Counter Terrorism boss talks New Year’s Eve security in Times Square
With the world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebration set to be back at full capacity in Times Square Saturday, NYPD Executive Officer of Counterterrorism Division Joseph Gallucci told amNewYork Metro what revelers can expect from the big night — fun.
Standing upon the iconic red steps in Times Square and looking out at tourists enjoying what has become a momentous attraction, Chief Gallucci underscored that he and his team are in place to ensure attendees are able to ring in the New Year safely and enjoyably.
Thankfully, following extensive preparation, Gallucci believes there is no credible threat to the event.
“At this time, we have no specific or credible threats towards the busy Times Square event. People should know that it’s going to be a safe event. We do everything that we possibly can. The police department but also all of our partners on local, state, federal level to make this a safe event so that the people that do attend, don’t have to worry about safety and security,” Chief Gallucci told amNewYork Metro commenting on the return to full capacity. “It doesn’t matter if we are bringing a thousand people or hundreds of thousands of people, we prepare the same. The city has really made a big comeback. So, that includes tourism. So yes, you know, we do expect quite a few people to come back especially since they haven’t really been allowed to attend over the last couple of years due to COVID and a variety of other reasons.”
This weekend will mark the first time since 2019 that Times Square will host as many people as possible under its bright lights to witness music acts and to make the final countdown. While Gallucci confirmed that the sea of humanity flooding into the event has not altered their preparedness, there are certain things the NYPD must keep their eyes peeled for, as well as placing restrictions on certain items that can be brought to the show.
“We’re concerned about large bags, coolers, umbrellas, anything else that could potentially be used as a weapon,” Chief Gallucci explained. “But we’ll be doing bag screening at numerous access points. It’s a multi-layered screening process that we have, which will consist of our physical security blocking vehicles, our canines, our explosive trace detection, and more.”
While it will be a tight squeeze for many, Gallucci pointed out that once properly screened, people can leave and return but they must go through the screening process again to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Spectators will be placed in pens to prevent attendees from being harmed under foot or by being pressed against one another.
With the NYPD having all the security in place, Gallucci says all the public has to do is have fun.