CITY HALL — Police Commissioner Ray Kelly is bracing for a different kind of fireworks display this New Year’s Eve.
While the agency focuses its efforts on preventing drunken driving and terrorism as hundreds of thousands of people prepare to converge on Times Square, Kelly said the department is also trying to prevent New Yorkers with guns sending "celebratory gunfire" into the sky.
“Obviously, we urge people not to do that. The bullets come down and hit people,” he told reporters Thursday at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn.
While police did not immediately respond to a request for information about how many people had been accidentally hit during recent New Years celebrations, Kelly said, “We’ve seen that happen in years gone by.”
In addition to watching out for guns, Kelly said that several thousand police officers, including many recent police academy graduates, will be deployed during this year’s festivities. The night's events include fireworks at Liberty Island, a late-night run through Central Park and the massive Times Square ball drop, which is expected to draw a massive crowd.
Kelly said that in addition to standard security checks, police will initiate “a counter-terrorism overlay” that includes bomb-sniffing dogs in subways and other large gathering spaces.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be at the ceremony to push the giant crystal button that officially rings in the New Year, added his voice to the mix, warning New Yorkers not to think about drinking and driving.
“I certainly would tell my kids, 'you have a couple of drinks, don’t drive',” he said. “Alcohol and driving do not mix.”
Bloomberg will be joined by Lady Gaga and teen crooner Justin Bieber, as well as a host of other musical guests.
“It is one of the most exciting things. The weather’s going to be great,” he said, adding that, despite the warnings “it is phenomenally safe."
“People do behave themselves in the crowd."