NEW YORK — Thousands of people are expected to attend Wednesday’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, and protesters are expected to show up, too.
CBS New York’s Jenna DeAngelis got an exclusive look at the NYPD’s efforts to keep everyone safe.
The NYPD says there are no credible threats to the event, it’s aware of potential protests, and police are pulling out all the stops to keep people safe.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism Rebecca Weiner welcomed CBS New York into the Joint Operations Center. From this one place, police have eyes all over the city, including Rockefeller Center.
“So if something specific were to happen, you can zoom in and get a closer look,” DeAngelis said.
“Absolutely, and we can communicate, which is the really important part, with the teams. We’re gonna have a robust uniform presence on the ground,” Weiner said.
“Officers that you can see, of course, officers you can’t see … For an event like this, we’re gonna pull out all the stops, our drones,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said.
Drone teams will be strategically placed for Wednesday night’s tree lighting along with tethered drone trucks.
“There’s a tethered drone on top of the truck, which goes about 200 feet up in the air,” NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said.
The video also feeds live to the Joint Operations Center, where leaders of different city agencies will gather, sharing information as the event is underway.
“The incident commander also has an iPad, and he can use the iPad to actually monitor the crowd,” Daughtry said.
Daughtry explained how this technology can help with large crowds and protests.
“Let’s say if there’s a group — I don’t know, 500, 1,000 protesters — they’re starting to march, our drones will be able to follow them. If they decide to make a quick turn that we don’t have any officers there, we can see ahead of where they’re going,” he said.
The NYPD is aware of protests planned at the tree lighting in response to the war between Israel and Hamas. This follows the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade where pro-Palestinian protesters ran into streets, disrupting the event. Police took 34 people into custody.
“We believe very strongly that people in this city have a right to express their views and to do so peacefully, however we can’t tolerate disruption, we can’t tolerate destruction, and we certainly are not gonna tolerate any violence,” Weiner said.
The NYPD reiterated it protects this event each year along with many other large scale events — and protests — so it’s prepared.
Anyone who does plan to attend the lighting ceremony is reminded that certain items are prohibited, like backpacks, blankets, alcohol and anything that can obstruct others from enjoying the event.