Mayor Bloomberg: 'No Immediate Threats Against Our City'
By Ben Fractenberg and Jim Scott
MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly assured New Yorkers Monday there are no immediate threats against New York City a day after the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden was announced.
Bin Laden's death prompted the NYPD and the Port Authority to increase the number of its police stationed at the World Trade Center, subway stations and New York City airports.
Mayor Bloomberg said precautions still needed to be taken.
"As of now, I'm happy to say, there are no immediate threats against our city," Bloomberg said in a press conference at 4 World Trade Center Monday. "But there is no doubt we remain a top target, and the killing of bin Laden will not change that. Nor will it distract us from a mission that remains our absolute and highest priority: defending our city and country against all those who use violence to attack freedom."
Commissioner Kelly gave details of the work being done on the streets and behind the scenes by the NYPD since news of bin Laden's death in Pakistan became public on Sunday night.
"We started taking precautions last evening. We directed all our officers to be alert to suspicious packages or any evidence that our transit system or our iconic locations are being targeted."
The commissioner said bag searches were increased on the subway and key subway stations had more heavily armed police patrolling and helicopters flying overhead Monday. The NYPD was also paying close attention to ferries and water taxis, Kelly said.
At the Times Square subway station, a dozen police cars were parked around entrances Monday morning. Extra officers were clearly visible inside.
"I have definitely noticed a difference," said Anthony Bell, 20, a security guard who traveled to Times Square.
"It did make me feel safe."
The NYPD is working with federal agencies to thwart any possible acts of revenge by Al Qaeda and other bin Laden supporters.
"A lot of the work we are doing is not visible to the public," Kelly said. "Our counter-terrorism bureau and intelligence division are working closely with our federal partners, looking home and abroad looking for any indication of retaliatory acts."
The Port Authority increased the amount of officers at the George Washington Bridge as a safety precaution.
"This response is not based on a current threat, but out of an abundance of caution until we have the chance to learn more," said Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward.
"In the meantime, all Port Authority facilities remain fully operational and at normal service levels."
David Alexander, 40, a computer engineer who took the subway from the Upper West Side, said heavy police presence was also obvious at 72nd Street.
But he said, "I am still no safer than I was three days ago.
"The moment there's a false sense of security, that's when something's coming."
In Penn Station, commuters were divided on whether there was any additional manpower Monday morning, since the commuter hub is often full of NYPD officers and military reserves.
"It’s like this all the time," Dominique Grant, 25, adding that she doesn't believe the added manpower can help head off an attack.
"I think there will be another attack, there’s nothing they can do," Grant said.
Bash Olu, 33, who works for an airline, said he appreciated the NYPD's additional response.
"It makes me feel protected, maybe for now it can help," Olu said.
The increased presence could help scare off potential attacks, according to Olu, but that "after a while, it will go back to normal."