United Nations General Assembly puts spotlight on NYPD traffic agents

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Keeping traffic moving in a city of 8.5 million is no easy feat, but for New York City traffic cops, it's a routine they're trained for day in and day out.

And on weeks like this one, when world leaders are in town for the United Nations General Assembly, that's when they really earn their keep.

"This job is not for the timid," NYPD traffic agent Charisse Robinson said. "But if you're timid, you'll get out of that quick if you come here."

Every day during the UN General Assembly is a Gridlock Alert Day, and the East Side is the belly of the beast.

"We now have hundreds of motorcades going in and out of the city," traffic agent Jonathan Pena said. "It's a very cool experience, something that you don't experience every day or every week or month. It happens once a year. It's fun."

Related: Security measures and street closures for the United Nations General Assembly

Traffic agents have one mission -- keep it moving.

"I'm not trying to come out and just give you a summons," Robinson said. "I'm trying to give you courtesy, give you the opportunity to move or do what you need to do."

And they try their best to do it with a smile, and they do it with a laser focus while making safety and security their top priority.

It's challenging, and during this week last year, the average speed in Midtown was just 3 miles per hour. Slow traffic can open the door for some interesting conversations.

"I have had a lot of propsals," Robinson said with a laught.

She politely declined. And while no one has asked for Pena's hand in marriage, he has had his own strange moments.

"Motorist calling me Usher, or pedestrians saying, 'I didn't know Usher was a traffic agent,'" he said.

The General Assembly will soon be a distant memory, and they'll regroup and get ready for the next big event -- holiday season.

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