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High security set for NYC's big party

Pedestrians crowd Times Square Monday night.
Pedestrians crowd Times Square Monday night.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York City is taking extra security measures to protect the 500,000 celebrants expected in Times Square on New Year's Eve to watch the traditional ball drop.

"We've had no indication that anybody wants to attack us, but we live in a dangerous world," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Better to be safe than sorry."

The New York City bomb squad and K-9 teams will conduct sweeps of Times Square and the city's subway system.

All mailboxes and trash cans around Times Square will be removed so they can't be used to hide explosives, a move Bloomberg admitted could have a messy result the morning after. "By the next day, hopefully [the trash] will all be gone," he said.

Counterterrorism sniper teams also will be deployed throughout Times Square. Manhole covers will be sealed.

Revelers will be searched upon entry into specified viewing areas and will not be allowed to leave once they enter those areas.

"No bags, packages or backpacks will be permitted" in those areas, said New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

The NYPD is sending officers, detectives and special teams out in force to scan for everything from bombs and weapons to alcohol and drugs, he said.

Kelly said several hundred undercover officers from the detective, narcotics, counterterrorism and intelligence divisions will take part in the security force.

"Some steps will be obvious, others will not," Kelly said. "At Times Square and at other locations, we will deploy a substantial number of police officers both in uniform and in plain clothes."

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration issued temporary flight restrictions for New York for the holiday starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday and ending at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Pilots will not be allowed to fly lower than 1,500 feet within a one-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty, an FAA spokeswoman said. They will also be forbidden to fly below 2,000 feet over midtown Manhattan from 23rd Street to 96th Street, between the East River and the Hudson River.

The restrictions were established at the NYPD's request, she said.

A New York police officer helps a tourist Monday near the Midtown South Police precinct in the Times Square area.
A New York police officer helps a tourist Monday near the Midtown South Police precinct in the Times Square area.

"We've been doing it at every large gathering in the city since September 11 -- Fourth of July, the marathon," said NYPD spokesman Michael O'Looney. "There's nothing new that prompted it."

Kelly also addressed an FBI alert for five men the agency says entered the country illegally last week, saying there was "no particular reason" to believe they were in New York. Gov. George Pataki was among those specifically told of the alert.

Bloomberg said people should feel reassured by the measures and know they are safe. He said he plans to attend the theater and have dinner in Times Square before attending the New Year's countdown.

"Some people will be inconvenienced, some people will be annoyed, but that's the price we pay for living in a dangerous world," he said.



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