NYC officials reassure residents after ISIS video


New York City police are on high alert after ISIS released a video on Wednesday, Nov. 18 pairing footage of Times Square and Herald Square with praise for the Nov. 15 terrorist attacks in Paris. In a statement released on the same night, the NYPD indicated that they would “remain at a heightened state of vigilance” and that they are continuing to deploy specially-trained officers throughout the city to ensure safety for residents. On Monday, the NYPD deployed 100 of these officers, who are part of the department's new Critical Response Command, which was established earlier this year after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January. The command will eventually consist of more than 500 officers, no fewer than 100 of whom will be on duty at all times.

On the busiest days, over 460,000 pedestrians visit Times Square. Following the release of a threatening ISIS video, the NYPD increased security in the area. Photo by Davis Campbell.

The officers, who are equipped with rifles and body armor, have been sent to stand guard at strategic locations around the city, such as Times Square, Herald Square and the French Consulate. Security has also been tightened on the subway, with officers conducting random bag checks and using special equipment to detect explosives.

Despite the disturbing nature of the video, officials do not believe that the city is at immediate risk of being attacked. At a press conference held in Times Square several hours after the release of the video, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents not to be afraid.

“It's crucial that people go about their normal business recognizing the NYPD is providing extraordinary protection for the people of this city,” de Blasio said. “There is no specific and credible threat against New York City,” he later added.

In more ways than one, the video is nothing new. Some of the footage was taken from a video that ISIS released in April of this year, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Moreover, New York has long been a target for terrorism due to its large population and status as an important western city. Nevertheless, “the video reaffirms that New York City remains a top terrorist target,” according to the NYPD.

According to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, the NYPD is well-equipped to deal with terrorist threats.“The gathering of intelligence, no one does it better than the NYPD and our partnership with the FBI,” Bratton said in a Nov. 15 interview with ABC 7, later pointing to the NYPD's excellent record preventing terrorist attacks.

Police in Times Square. Photo by Davis Campbell.

“We've thwarted 20 attacks since 9/11,” he said, “but they are coming at us much more frequently.”

Bratton also pointed out the effectiveness of the city's Joint Terrorism taskforce, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this week.

Mayor de Blasio also expressed a high degree of confidence in the ability of the NYPD to protect residents of the city.

“The people can rest assured that extraordinary efforts are being made every single day to keep them safe,” he said, “This is the finest police force in this nation. For 14 years since 9/11 this police force has consistently protected the city against terrorist threats, and it will continue to do so.”