NEW YORK – The pileup of events in the city next week, including the Republican National Convention (search), will add to the security challenge for the New York Police Department, but commissioner Ray Kelly (search) says, "With a big, experienced police force, we can do it."
Kelly spoke Monday at police headquarters as he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (search) met with Jewish leaders to outline security measures for the upcoming Jewish religious holidays, and for the confluence of other events preceding them: the U.S. Open tennis tournament, home games for the Mets and Yankees, and the start of a massive celebration by Caribbean immigrants.
The police commissioner said "virtually the entire department" will be mobilized throughout the city next week — in midtown at Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican convention; at Yankee stadium in the Bronx and at Shea Stadium and the nearby U.S. Tennis Center in Queens.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the 36,500-member department has deployed scores of uniformed and plainclothes officers at each home game of the city's two baseball teams.
Security also will be tight at the U.S. Open, where matches begin on Aug. 30, the same day the convention opens. A festival in Brooklyn that starts the day after the convention ends and culminates in the West Indian Day parade on Sept. 6. is expected to draw a large number of spectators and hundreds of police officers.
The department has taken a show-of-force approach to the convention. Up to 10,000 officers will flood the streets and subways around Madison Square Garden and elsewhere. On Monday, uniformed police officers were posted throughout Pennsylvania Station and still more officers guarded entrances above ground.
Police expect up to 250,000 anti-war demonstrators to march on Sunday, the eve of the convention. They also believe protesters will take to the streets on the night of Sept. 2, when President Bush accepts his party's nomination.
Some officers normally assigned to investigative or administrative duties will be shifted to patrol. About 200 narcotics detectives have been drafted for anti-terror duties, officials said. Many officers have received training on how to handle chemical, biological or radiological attacks, at a cost of millions of dollars.
Police will remain on high alert during the High Holy Days, deploying heavily armed units known as "Hercules" teams and extra patrols to Jewish neighborhoods. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown Sept. 15. Bloomberg said, "We do recognize that such places could be targeted and must be protected."