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Has Terror Wrecked New Year’s Eve?

Security at Times Square on New Year's Eve
Security at Times Square on New Year’s Eve (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

‘Security Pens’ for Screening at Times Square – New York City

Unprecedented security measures will be undertaken in New York City to protect the festivities on New Year’s Eve when close to a million revelers are expected to gather around Time Square to watch the iconic ball drop at midnight.

Over a 22-block area, streets and parking garages will be closed. The area will be sealed off with blocker cars and sand trucks. Trucks will also be banned from neighboring avenues.

Access to the area will only be through 12 checkpoints manned with security teams bearing heavy weapons and specially-bred and trained bomb-sniffing (vapor wake) dogs.

The checkpoints will lead to pens. Revelers will be screened a second time while proceeding to the pens. No backpacks, large bags or umbrellas will be allowed.

With these security measures, not to mention temperatures expected to be 13 degrees Fahrenheit (-10.5 Celsius) and even lower due to the wind chill, it remains to be seen if the expected crowds will brave such conditions.

 

‘Safe Zone’ for Women in Berlin

A “safe zone” for women will be set up at the giant “party mile” in Berlin – an annual event along a stretch at Brandenburg Gate that features fireworks, bands and DJs and parties lasting well past midnight.

The woman-only zone will not only be a place where women can congregate but will be staffed with First Aid workers and psychologists for women who have been assaulted or harassed.

The measure comes after gangs of immigrant men made coordinated assaults on women in Cologne and other German cities at public News Year’s Eve celebrations in 2015 and 2016.

According to leaked police reports, police estimated that 2,000 immigrant men were involved in assaults on 1,200 German women across Germany on New Year’s Eve 2015.

The women’s safe zone is only one of the security measures being taken by German police in Berlin this New Year’s.

Although the measures are necessary, the sentiment in Germany can be summed up in a tweet by Christian Loose, an opposition politician in North Rhine Westphalia, who wrote:

“If somebody had said a few years ago that soon it would only be possible to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Germany with platoons of police officers – and that Christmas markets must be particularly secured – they would have been called crazy. Now it is the status quo.”

 

Party Cancelled: ‘We Can’t Afford the Security’ – Sydney

An annual family-oriented street party at a church-owned venue in Sydney was cancelled due to the cost to secure the site.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Reverend Craig Potter, rector of the St Aidan’s Anglican Church that owns property overlooking the famous Harbour Bridge.

The annual and increasingly popular family New Year’s Eve event attracted 4,000 people last year to listen to bands, partake of a sausage roast and watch fireworks.

New laws require such public celebrations to hire security guards and put up concrete or water-filled bollards (thick posts used to stop a vehicular attack).

In November, authorities arrested man suspected of planning a New Year’s Eve attack in Melbourne. Police say the attack was planned for Melbourne’s city center, which last year drew a half a million people to its celebration.

 

‘We’re Stretched” to the Max — London

Police resources in the UK are stretched thin, resulting in a smaller number of police officers on duty in London and other locations this New Year’s Eve – despite the fact that terror attacks have been on the rise in the city.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has called for more funding for the force.

At the peak, 6,000 officers were deployed on New Yera’s Eve in 2015 and all leave was cancelled for armed officers. This year, 3,000 armed officers will be on duty, an “appropriate number” based on the threat, according to a spokesperson for the police, speaking to The Independent.

 

After Foiled Christmas Attack – San Francisco

Police have added backup to their security teams after an Islamic-State-inspired attack planned for Christmas Day in San Francisco was foiled.

Everitt Aaron Jameson, a 26-year-old tow truck driver who was arrested right before Christmas, was allegedly plotting a large-scale terror attack on the city’s Pier 39, a popular tourist attraction.

Jameson, a convert to Islam who now goes by the name of Abdallah abu Everitt ibn Gordon al-Amriki, was trained as a sharp shooter before being discharged from the Marines for failure to disclose his asthma.

Although there are no known threats for New Year’s Eve in San Francisco, additional police will be deployed to secure the large crowds that traditionally gather in the city to watch fireworks and drink champagne to herald in the new year.

 

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