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NYS: Enhanced security measures ahead of New Year's holiday weekend


Fri, Dec 29th 2023 02:20 pm

State agency staffing increased, security augmented at airports, bridges, tunnels & mass transit systems as precautionary measure

√ Agencies include Division of State Police, New York National Guard, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Gov. Kathy Hochul today announced enhanced security measures being taken this weekend by state agencies ahead of New Year's Eve. Agencies including the Division of State Police, New York National Guard, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will have increased staffing through the holiday weekend, and security will be augmented at airports, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit systems as a precautionary measure to help keep New Yorkers safe.

Hochul urges New Yorkers to be safe and be aware of their surroundings when attending public events to celebrate the New Year.

“As we gather to celebrate the ringing in of 2024, I want to remind New Yorkers that first responders across the state are working through the holiday weekend to keep all of us safe,” she said. “We can do our part by taking a little extra time to think about basic safety and be aware of our surroundings when in public. Together we can enjoy a safe and peaceful New Year’s Eve.”

New York State Agency Activities

•New York State Police will be at maximum staffing through the New Year’s holiday weekend and there will be an increased presence of State Police troopers at critical infrastructure, transportation facilities, and communities across New York. State Police will monitor all mass gatherings and share intelligence with other law enforcement agencies to keep people safe. In addition, state troopers will be assigned to a dedicated traffic detail that helps keep impaired drivers off the road.

•National Guard: Troops from Joint Task Force Empire Shield, the New York National Guard security force in New York City, will be on duty over New Year’s weekend in support of law enforcement at rail and bus transportation sites, and at LaGuardia and JFK airports. The 24th Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team, based at Fort Hamilton, is on standby for New Year’s Eve near Times Square in New York City. Soldiers and airmen are trained to identify chemical, biological and explosive materials, and to assist civilian first responders.

•The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is in contact with public safety officials in New York City, including NYPD, Port Authority, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. This year, the State Office of Counter Terrorism (OCT) conducted more than 1,100 joint counterterrorism exercises at various locations across the state, including New York City. In 2023, law enforcement teams across the state conducted exercises involving over 400 law enforcement personnel who assessed suspicious activity reporting and recognition at 860 retailers and businesses that sell chemicals, compounds, components, services, or rent space or resources that could be exploited by those with nefarious intent. These teams also assessed more than 200 infrastructure locations across the state, including stadiums and arenas, malls and shopping centers, colleges and universities, airports, transit hubs, and other mass-gathering locations. OCT also worked with security teams responsible for the Moynihan Train Hall and the East Side Access/Grand Central Madison project to develop and test security procedures for those locations.

•The Port Authority continues to work closely with local, state and federal partners to enhance protective countermeasures around large public events to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public. This includes but is not limited to additional police and civilian security staffing at all facilities.

•The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has increased patrols and surveillance to provide heightened protection at major rail hubs. The MTA Police Department has stepped up its uniformed and plainclothes presence in Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal as well as other major stations throughout the Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Rail Road network. Police canine teams and special purpose units will provide added protection. Railroad customers will also see increased train patrols, as well as random bag checks at various locations.

‘If You See Something, Say Something’

New Yorkers are reminded to stay alert to their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity. Reports can be made to the New York state terrorism tips line at 1-866-SAFENYS (1-866-723-3697) or at https://www.dhses.ny.gov/form/terrorism-tips-online-submission. New Yorkers can also download the “See Something, Send Something” smartphone app on the Safeguard New York webpage.

Sparkler Safety

Hochul also urged New Yorkers to practice safety when engaging in celebrations, including using sparklers that can cause dangerous fires and injuries when not used properly.

The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) states that sparkling devices are ground-based or handheld sparking devices that produce a shower of colored sparks or colored flame, crackling or whistling noise and smoke – they do not launch into the air. Users must be 18 years or older to use sparkling devices.

The following fireworks are illegal statewide: firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners, and aerial devices.

Sales of sparkling devices by certified permanent and specialty retailers can only take place during the year from June 1 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. Sales of sparkling devices by certified temporary stands or tents can only occur from June 20 to July 5 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 2. A list of registered sparkling device vendors appears here.

The list of counties that prohibit the sale and possession of sparkling devices is ever changing. To ensure compliance, check with the local county sheriff’s office.

Sparkler Safety Tips

Hochul’s team offered the following:

√ Children and sparklers are a dangerous combination. Never allow young children to play with or ignite sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to melt some metals.

√ Never throw or point sparkling devices toward people, animals, vehicles, structures, or flammable materials. Always follow packaging instructions.

√ Keep a water supply or an approved fire extinguisher nearby.

√ Only light one sparkling device at a time and never attempt to relight "a dud."

√ Always use sparkling devices outdoors. Never light sparklers inside.

√ Store sparkling devices in a cool, dry place away from children and pets.

√ If you are impaired by alcohol, do not use sparkling devices.

√ Always wear eye protection when using sparkling devices.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control also encourages parents and guardians to provide children and teens with nonflammable alternatives to sparkling devices, which can be found at many retail stores, including glow sticks, pipe cleaner “sparklers,” fairy lights and LED Items.

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