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Sensors, helicopters keep eye on Times Square

Powell to drop New Year's Eve ball

From Alina Cho and Jamie McShane

New York City police officers keep watch as people stroll through Times Square on Thursday.
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NYC is beefing up security ahead of the 100th NYE celebration in Times Square.
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New Year's Eve

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Law enforcement officials are using chemical sensors to test air quality at Times Square in advance of Friday night's New Year's Eve celebration.

Starting late Thursday, the sensors, already in place at locations throughout the Times Square district, were being monitored hourly. Before Thursday, the sensors were checked every 24 hours.

The New York Police Department's fleet of seven helicopters will patrol the Manhattan skies Friday.

One new police helicopter is equipped with gamma radioactive sensors and infrared heat imaging technology.

The helicopter is outfitted with cameras that can identify people clearly in the dark from as far away as 1,000 feet in the air.

"We can monitor images in real time with high-powered cameras, transmitting pictures right down to the ground," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Authorities have welded manhole covers, and locked or removed mailboxes in preparation for celebration.

Officials are not aware of any specific threats related to New Year's Eve; however, they are not taking any chances.

"We have a fusion center, an intelligence fusion center, where we partner up with federal agencies and we monitor information throughout the world that may affect this event," Kelly said.

Powell to drop ball

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, a New York native, will be dropping the crystal ball in Times Square seconds before midnight Friday as the calendar flips to the year 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

"I am proud of this city, a city that gave me such a good start in life," Powell told reporters.

"When the countdown begins tonight, I will be thinking of fellow Americans," including those serving in the military in Iraq and other countries. "On New Year's Day and every day, these people fight in the front lines of freedom."

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