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As a year with record-breaking gun violence comes to a close, the New York City Police Department is taking extra steps to ensure the safety of those attending New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square. According to the New York Times, decisions on how to prepare for the night are being informed by the recent shooting in Las Vegas, where a gunman fired on a crowd of concertgoers in October.
Two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history took place in 2017. In addition to the shooting in Las Vegas, where 58 were killed, a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas resulted in 26 deaths in November. But gunmen aren’t the NYPD’s only concerns this New Year’s Eve. A bomb placed in a subway corridor in Times Square failed to detonate on Dec. 11, and on Oct. 31 a driver ran through a bike lane in Manhattan, killing eight and injuring 11.
Though there is currently no known threat to the city, as a precaution police will be patrolling hotels in the area, setting up rooftop observation teams, and using sand trucks to block car attacks like the one in October. “There are no direct credible threats to New York City, to Times Square specifically, or to any of our New Year’s Eve events generally,” NYPD commissioner James P. O’Neill said at a news conference on Thursday. “Out of an abundance of caution, however, you’ll see a stronger police presence out there than we’ve seen even in recent years.”
In anticipation of any bomb threats, officers were given instructions on how to protect bystanders from would-be bombers, and explosive-sniffing dogs will be patrolling the area. People celebrating NYE in Times Square must go through metal-detecting security checks when entering and leaving the area.
More than 5,000 officers are going to be watching the area where about 2 million people celebrated last year. The temperature is expected to reach record lows.