Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill: Good afternoon, everybody. So as we do before all major events in New York City we just wanted to give you a rundown of some of the things that people can expect to see and experience as we head into Thanksgiving week. In a moment the Mayor will speak and then Susan Tercero the Vice President for Macy’s, she’ll have some remarks. Then Terry Monahan, Chief of Patrol, will give you the overview of what we’re doing night and . He’ll go through the specifics of balloon inflation event which always draws more than 200,000 spectators and then he’ll talk about the millions of people who will attend the Thanksgivings Day Parade and what we’re doing.
First and foremost, I’d like to thank the 36,000 uniformed members of the New York City Police Department for what they do every day, and especially the police officers assigned to the events this week. They’ll be away from their families making sure the rest of us are safe and secure. The NYPD is ready for this week. One thing I have learned since I have become the Police Commissioner is that New Yorkers – and I’ve known this for a long time but it’s reinforced, New Yorkers are strong and resilient and they don’t make decisions based on fear. We’ve had a couple of tough months as a nation, and you know among other incidents I’m specifically talking about the shooting in Las Vegas and the terror attack in Lower Manhattan on Halloween. As I’ve said before we won’t ever accept such acts of hate and cowardice as inevitable in our society, certainly not here in New York. And I want to ensure the people that we swore to protect that any time something happens anywhere in the world, the NYPD works with our law enforcement partners and studies it, and we learn from it, and it informs our decision making going forward.
In terms of deployment and other security measures, what you’ll see this year at the Thanksgiving Day Parade will be in addition to what we did last year. You’ll see every intersection there’ll be more blocker cars and there will be sand-filled sanitation trucks. And this is the third year in a row we’ll be using our critical response command cops who are specially assigned to counterterrorism duties. We’ll be working alongside our strategic response group officers, our patrol cops, and our emergency service unit too. And there will be much the public won’t see as well. The bottom line is we want everyone to come out and enjoy what is really a great tradition in New York City every Thanksgiving. And know that the layers of security and protection every – and know that the layers of security and protection we will provide again this year have been in the planning stages since the end of last year’s parade. We’re all looking forward to another great holiday again this year, and we know all New Yorkers are as well. We’ll see you out there and night too, thank you very much.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you Commissioner. Commissioner, thank you to you and your team for the exceptional work that has been done to prepare for the Thanksgiving Parade and for the night before. I have to say I’m particularly proud of the NYPD in the last few weeks given what this city experienced last month. To see the resolve of our officers to make sure that people are kept safe sends a very powerful message to people of this city that no matter what the event, what the occasion, the NYPD will be there in force and will get the job done. And this is one of the great occasions each year in this city, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. One of the events everyone looks forward to all year, one of the events most associated with the city, it’s been 91 years now. This is literally one of the symbols of why New York City is great and that’s why it is so important to protect this parade and make sure that everyone can enjoy it.
We have the finest police force in the world. They have proven time and again that they can make this great event and other huge events work seamlessly. And we saw that also recently with the New York City Marathon. So, we are very, very clear about the pain that still hangs in the air because of the attack last month, the eight innocent people who lost their lives. And all eight and a half million New Yorkers mourn for their families. But, we said right away after that horrible tragedy New York’s response is to remain strong and resilient. We do not back down in the face of terror threats and we don’t back down in the face of terrorism itself. We saw that most powerfully on 9/11 and the months after. This city is filled with resolved. And one of the things we show the world is the fact that we will keep going and that our great annual events that symbolize everything about this city we’re proud of, that they will never be changed.
So, that will be on display this week. And the numbers that will come out will be exceptional, hundreds of thousands and well over a million could be expected . This means of course, there’ll be inconveniences as always, there will be street closures, there’ll be things that we have to grapple with but as New Yorkers we can deal with that because we’re also proud of the fact that we have these kinds of events that literally the eyes of the entire world are on. And people love coming out to see the balloons being put together and prepared. And they love coming out . But I will remind people there are going to be a lot of street closures, definitely pay attention to the specifics about where you’re going and what the impact will be. Take mass transit if you can. And that’s the best way to enjoy this wonderful day ahead.
Look what you can rely upon is that there will be a very strong presence of the NYPD. Stronger than ever in fact. I want to emphasize – this is the most important thing I’ll say, there are no credible and specific threats against New York City at this time. There are no credible and specific threats against these events. That being said, we will have a very forceful NYPD presences, we will be prepared for any eventuality. There’s a lot of presence you will see, and as we always there will be presence you don’t see that helps to protect all New Yorkers. And I think people understand when they see that visible presence they are reassured by it, they appreciate it. I hear that from my fellow New Yorkers all the time.
Now I remind everyone, every New Yorker can help the NYPD. The phrase ‘if you see something, say something’ is more meaningful than ever. And it comes down to this, if you don’t like the look of a situation, if something seems out of place, you see a package unattended, please don’t take time to think about it just go to an NYPD officer and report it. That’s something everyone can do to help.
So, look, as we prepare for these great events, we take stock and we particularly take stock at Thanksgiving of who we are. We’re very proud as New Yorkers. We’re proud of the fact that people of all backgrounds, all faiths live in harmony here. We’re proud of the fact we’re the safest big city in America. We are, in fact, the terrorists worst nightmare because we reflect a positive, successful, pluralistic society. Everything the terrorists are trying to stop we show every day works here in New York City. That means we are, in the bigger scheme of things, always going to be facing threats but we know how to handle it. And I am so proud of the fact that New Yorkers never even think about changing who we are or changing our values in the face of these threats.
Chief of Patrol Terence Monahan, NYPD: Alright good afternoon everyone. First I’m going to go over the balloon inflation night and the public viewing. We reevaluated how we were looking at this and we came up with some changes to the security to make it an even safer venue. First and foremost, we’re changing the times of the viewing. It will be from for the public viewing of the balloon inflation. We are going to be shutting down Central Park West from 72nd Street up to 86th Street. There will be no traffic allowed there after We’re going to be dropping concrete barriers along Columbus Avenue going from 77th Street on East Side to 81st Street. When people arrive to come to do the viewing, you’re going to be entering from Columbus Avenue eastbound on 74th Street and you’re going to walk down to Central Park West. Once on Central Park West you’re going to go through a screening. We will not be allowing any large backpacks, umbrellas, coolers, or chairs in the area. Once you go through that screening process, you’ll walk up to 77th Street, you’ll go westbound on 77th Street to view the balloons there, go northbound on Columbus, south on 81st Street – east on 81st Street and then exit on 81st Street on Central Park West.
Once this all over at , you’re going to see rolling closures throughout the day, different traffic closures, shutting down traffic on the entire route. DCPI can give you the times of each and every one of those closings at the end of this press conference. By everything will be shut along the route of the parade, there will be no crosstown traffic going from 86th Street down to 34th Street.
On the parade route itself we’re going to have seven locations with anemometers, this is to check the wind speed for the balloons. We will have a police officer assigned to each and every one of the balloons that goes along the route. And they will adjust the levels of the balloon based on the wind speed at those locations. We will have our typical counterterrorism overlay for both the balloon inflation and for the parade. You can expect to see numerous sand trucks, blocker vehicles protecting the entire venues. You will see heavy weapon teams deployed at both the balloons and during the parade. They will be all over the parade route. We will have observation teams located at various locations along the route also. You will see our Vaper Wake dogs and other canine dogs on both the balloons and during the route. We will have mounted officers assigned. We will have teams assigned with our radiation detective devices. We will have aviation assigned to both venues. A ship assigned to each one of the venues to make sure everything – check on rooftops.
This has been a real combined effort, putting this together, security effort between Manhattan North operations, Manhattan South operations, and our counterterrorism forces. We are working closely with all our law enforcement partners that work in New York. Together, with a lot of various City agencies that have combined, we have sat down together with Macy’s – numerous meetings starting since last year to make sure that this is a safe, safe venue.
Come out, enjoy the day, but once you’re out there if you see anything, anything suspicious there will be a cop on every block, go to that cop, say something. Don’t be afraid, say maybe it’s nothing. Let us investigate it. So, I can’t end it any better than saying if you see something, say something. Thank you.