December 31, 2008

NEW YORK (AFP) — New York police studied the November bloodbath in Mumbai as they prepared heavy security for Wednesday’s New Year celebrations, police commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

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Police face a major security headache with up to a million people — including former president Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton — expected in Manhattan’s Times Square for the traditional dropping of the crystal ball at midnight.

Kelly said that in addition to standard patrols there would be watchtowers and teams with radiation and biological detection equipment.

Backpacks and alcohol will be banned in the area, the police department announced.

“You’ll see a lot of uniformed officers. As I said, you’ll see a lot of our equipment on display,” he told CNN television.

“What you won’t see is officers in plain clothes. We have what we call a counter-terrorism overlay. We’ll have a lot of observation posts that will be manned. We have our helicopters in the air.”

The city police chief said the Mumbai attacks, in which 172 people were killed during a rampage by a handful of well-trained gunmen, had been an important lesson.

“We sent people to Mumbai. We got very specific information as to what happened there. We’ll make some adjustments that may not — the public may not see…. We’ve learned from Mumbai,” Kelly said.

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