By Kurt Wheelock
UNITED NATIONS, September 22 — While diplomats coming to the UN for the General Assembly this week will see some of the New York Police Department’s more than 200 concrete block barriers and 48 sand trucks meant to block vehicle attacks, there is a level of protection and preparation they will hopefully not see.
NYPD deputy commissioner for counter-terrorism and intelligence John Miller on September 20 told reporters that the recent biological attacks in the United Kingdom on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter are a new concern for this year’s UNGA week.
“We’ve compared notes with our colleagues in the UK,” Miller said. “We work very closely with the FBI… Those people have been talked to, those addresses have been flagged in our systems. We have spent a good deal of focus on what is a very complicated version of the cross between chemical and biological.”
“These are things that ramp up our security measures,” said NYPD Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati. NYPD, of course, cooperates with other agencies for UNGA Week. “The Secret Service carries out its protective mission by relying on a core strategy of forming partnerships with all participating law enforcement and public safety officials,” said David E. Beach, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service New York Field Office. “This National Special Security Event will be no different as there are numerous partners involved in the planning and implementation of the overall security plan.”
“Throughout the U.N. General Assembly, the FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Force, will work to support the effort of the United States Secret Service, the NYPD and others in order to keep this city and the world’s visiting dignitaries safe,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney, Jr. “As always, we continue to rely on an engaged public to remain aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement as our city once again takes the world stage.”
At the same briefing NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill emphasized that while “since the end of last years General Assembly we have been planning how to best protect various sites and all the people inside them again this year, at this time we have no direct concerns of terrorism for UNGA specifically and for New York City.”
But that will be little consolation for New York City drivers. “UN week is the most challenging traffic time in New York City and I’m not even sure people know that,” said Polly Trottenberg, NYC’s transportation commissioner. “If you are in the traffic, you are the traffic.”
And so the NYPD has issued this: “During the General Assembly, a major annual event held by the U.N., the City of New York will host about 200 VIP’s from around the world. To help ensure the safety of all New Yorker’s, the NYPD and its law enforcement partners on the federal, state and local levels will provide thousands of highly-trained uniformed and plain-clothes officers throughout the entire event. Additionally, 48 Department of Sanitation sand trucks will be deployed with hundreds of additional blocker vehicles. Two hundred thirty pieces of concrete block, 96 jersey barriers, and seven surface mounted delta vehicle barriers have also been placed at potentially-sensitive locations. Anyone who sees suspicious activity should alert a police officer or call 911. The NYPD’s terrorism hotline is 888-NYC-SAFE.
The General Assembly began on Tuesday, September 18th and continues through Monday, October 1st, 2018. The Department of Transportation has designated weekdays from Monday, September 24th through Monday, October 1st, 2018 as gridlock alert days. Alternatives, including public transportation, bike sharing, ride sharing and parking outside of Manhattan, are strongly encouraged.”
But as to possible biological attacks, no one will be certain until the UNGA Week is over and the circus moves on.
Photos: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire