New York City’s Police Commissioner has no qualms about heading out on Thanksgiving to see Big Bird.
The NYPD’s Bill Bratton said security for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade will be increased this year in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris.
“This year the concern will certainly be very specific, around the usual crowd management, but very specific on the increased terror concerns around the world,” Bratton told NY1. “But you’ve got the best police department in the world. New Yorkers should be celebratory and share with family. I have my grandkids coming in, I’ll be on the parade route with my two grandkids, [ages] three and five, for the first visit to New York from California. We’ll be at the blowing up of the balloons and we’ll be at the parade so if I felt there was any concern for security, I certainly wouldn’t bring my two lovely grandkids to it.”
“We’re ramping up [security] for Thanksgiving,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis told WWD. “We’re going to have a higher uniformed presence and that will continue until after New Year’s Eve.” Davis said uniformed officers will have a more noticeable presence this holiday than others “at key shopping hubs, which are the equivalents of malls, such as Fifth Avenue, certainly Herald Square and near Bloomingdale’s.”
Late Wednesday, Bratton joined Mayor Bill de Blasio in Times Square to also address concerns about shopper safety during the holiday season in light of a recently surfaced propaganda video from terror group ISIS. The video shows scenes of Manhattan including a Gap in Herald Square, Times Square as well as suicide bombers.
“Stoking fear is the goal of terrorist organizations, but New York City will not be intimidated,” de Blasio said. “The NYPD is the most capable police force in the country, with a robust counterterrorism operation that was just strengthened with an investment of 500 additional officers. While Times Square and Herald Square appear in the video, the NYPD in conjunction with all of our partners are taking all necessary security precautions in these areas and areas across the city. New Yorkers won’t live in fear and people should continue to go to work, live their lives and enjoy the greatest city in the world.”
Bratton added: “No city is better prepared to protect against terrorist attacks. The NYPD will protect you. We will not be intimidated and we will not live in fear.”
In related developments, the U.S. State Department on Thursday issued a travel warning to American citizens in Italy, saying that popular tourist attractions such as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, The Duomo in Milan and La Scala opera house have been identified as potential targets for attacks by terrorists. The U.S. government also warned that churches, restaurants, theaters and hotels in Rome and Milan could be possible targets. Also on Thursday, the U.S. embassy in Rome issued a warning to its citizens saying that terrorists could use methods in Italy similar to the Paris attacks. RAI state radio on Thursday said that there was no concrete evidence of any specific attacks. Italy nonetheless raised its security alert level to two, the highest level in the absence of a direct attack.