EXCLUSIVE: NYPD gives unprecedented access to World Pride March safety plans

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Friday, June 28, 2019
EXCLUSIVE: NYPD gives unprecedented access to World Pride March safety plans
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Bill Ritter reports on the details of the NYPD's heightened security plans for the World Pride March.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Millions of people are expected to flood Manhattan this Sunday for the World Pride March.

It is a big job for the NYPD, and now they are sharing details of how they will keep everyone safe. The NYPD is well-accustomed to handling huge events with massive security implications, but the Pride March is different.

WorldPride NYC coverages begins at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 30 with an ABC News Pride special on Channel 7 and abc7NY.com. And then at noon, join our team of Ken Rosato, Sam Champion, Lauren Glassberg and Kemberly Richardson for live coverage of WorldPride NYC 2019 on Channel 7 and abc7NY.com.

With rising hate crimes in the United States, it makes for a powerful reality when it comes to planning.

The NYPD gave Eyewitness News unprecedented access to its intelligence bureau operations in an undisclosed location. The 'See Something - Say Something' command center is the NYPD's eyes on the city. Surveillance cameras are in all five boroughs watching and recording.

"So they say 'If You See Something, Say Something,' and when you say something, this is where we hear it," said Intelligence and Counterterrorism Chief John Miller.

98 percent of the calls that come in are not terror related, but Miller says that is not the point.

"The percentage doesn't matter. If you stop one plot, one attack, prevent one crime - it's worth it," he adds.

The Pride Security Task Force, meeting for the past year, are briefing commanders on the latest security for the big march.

Nearby, other intel officers are monitoring live surveillance feeds from hundreds of locations around New York City.

"What we do, we try to take a temperature - what's in the threat stream? What is the pitch and tone of some of the vitriol out there?" says Miller.

Eyewitness News also talked to Police Commissioner James O'Neill about how they tried something new and reached out to LGBTQ leaders to get their input about security.

"I think we changed a lot of minds," said Miller, "I think we got a lot of people who would go out and speak to the doubters and the critics and say 'they're here for a reason, they're here for our safety, they're here for us.'"

Fifty years after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn sparked a global civil rights movement, Eyewitness News was with O'Neill where it happened.

"Thank God in 2019 it's a different police department. You know what happened in 1969 is not going to happen now," O'Neill said, "It's important that as we move forward and continue to keep the city safe, that we evolve."

Part of that evolution is because of Commissioner O'Neill, who earlier in June offered a heartfelt apology to the gay community - five decades in the making.

"As the police commissioner, you inherit both the past and the present...sometimes the right thing to do presents itself very clearly, and this was the case - pure and simple." he said.

The apology was met with overwhelming support.

"I'm getting nothing but positive reaction to it," added O'Neill.

The apology and the reaction comes at a critical moment as the NYPD prepares for the biggest gay event in history. World Pride, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and the annual New York City pride march are all converging as one massive celebration. For the NYPD, it has been in the planning stages for a year.

More Pride coverage at abc7NY.com/pride.


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