NYPD plans massive security effort ahead of UN General Assembly

Sonia Rincón Image
Thursday, September 14, 2023
NYPD details security plans ahead of UN General Assembly
Eyewitness News reporter Sonia Rincon got a look at the planning underway the UN General Assembly in New York City.

TUDOR CITY, Manhattan (WABC) -- The UN General Assembly will be in session next week, and that means lots of motorcades, road closures and security.

The NYPD says there are no specific or credible threats to the general assembly, but on Thursday, they talked about all the precautions that are being put in place.

Eyewitness News reporter Sonia Rincon got a behind-the-scenes look at the planning that's underway.

Starting next week you'll see barricades, motorcades, sanitation trucks in security mode, armed tactical officers and drones, as the city takes the world stage and takes on the responsibility of keeping world leaders safe.

A giant lot in Sunset Park is where hundreds of NYPD vehicles are dispatched to their assignments for UN General Assembly Week. The mission is to help protect international dignitaries on the move, and every place they go.

On top of all the logistical coordination, a lot of studying global affairs goes into planning and preparing for this massive security effort.

"So, if there's a country that is having an internal strife or dispute that just occurred or a disadvantaged community there, those elements will show up here," said Deputy Chief John Hart, Commanding Officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division. "We cover a whole 360-degree view of what could happen, where are they going to go."

"I'll have my critical response heavy weapons teams out," said Chief Judith Harrison of NYPD Counterterrorism. "They'll be heavily armed and will provide a heavily armed tactical presence with the ability to mobilize."

On Thursday, the NYPD upheld its tradition of naming the dispatch post known as "UNGA camp," after a fallen officer. This year the department honored Detective Troy Patterson, who died in May, 33 years after being shot in the line of duty and being in a coma.

"This location is the epicenter of where we brief our cops, our personnel and send them on their way, so this is a great tribute and we always honor our fallen brothers and sisters," NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Tania Kinsella said.

The family members that supported him, say they've felt the love of his NYPD family and detectives union that supported them all these years.

"Each time that we went to see him, he felt us, but he couldn't really see us. But there was love," aunt Beverly Patterson said.

"Family is just something that carries on," cousin Everton Brown said. "And now we've got this bigger family which is the police department which takes care of us now."

The NYPD briefed officers at its newly renamed camp, and briefed the public at UN headquarters, asking for understanding as the speedy transport of dignitaries will slow down getting around for everyone else, especially above ground.

"Don't drive unless you absolutely have to," Hart said. "Public transportation is by far the best method. Be patient."

If you think the frozen zones, security presence and motorcades will be limited to Manhattan, think again. International leaders often like to visit immigrant communities from their countries in the city which are all over the five boroughs.

While authorities insist there are no credible threats to the general assembly, a confidential NYPD bulletin distributed this month and obtained by ABC News said there is particular concern about "multiple recent attacks involving firearms and IEDs targeting high-ranking public officials globally."

The bulletin cited the assassinations both of an Ecuadorian presidential candidate and the former prime minister of Japan as well as attempted assassination in Argentina and in Ecuador. In the United States, the bulletin noted a recent attack at a Congressional office in Virginia and last year's violent assault of the elderly husband of Nancy Pelosi.

At Thursday's briefing, NYPD officials conceded the uptick in political violence is a concern but declined to identify specific dignitaries they are worried about.

Over 150 heads of state are scheduled to attend, among them President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been the target of months of protests over changes to the Israeli judiciary.

"Every aspect" of the NYPD will be involved in securing the event, NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said, including aviation, harbor and K9, working with the US Secret Service, the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and the UN's own security arm.


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