Mixing Whimsy and Prudence at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Big balloons, heavy security for NYC Thanksgiving parade.

Minutes before the balloons began bobbing through the streets of Manhattan, crowds pushed up against the barricades that lined Avenue of the Americas and, just out of earshot, counterterrorism officials from the New York Police Department huddled on the sidewalk, the Radio City Music Hall sign looming overhead. “I don’t have to tell you what’s going on in the city and what’s going on in the world,” Chief James R. On Thursday, as what was expected to be a crowd of three million people gathered to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade make its way through the city streets, close to 2,500 law enforcement officers were watching for trouble.

With the terror attacks in Paris fresh in many minds, and the emergence last week of a propaganda video by the Islamic State that includes scenes of New York, city officials orchestrated a plan as elaborate as the parade itself, even though they said there had been no credible threat against the city. But Police Commissioner William Bratton said more than 2,500 officers nevertheless would be stationed along the parade route — the largest number of officers the department has ever assigned to the event. They were trained and ready, officials said, to respond to an attack. “We are always at a heightened state,” Chief Waters said. “We realize we’re a target. After two days of demonstrations following the release of a video that shows a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing black teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, protest organizers said no marches were planned for Thanksgiving. Even if the White House’s thyme-roasted bird didn’t turn out to be the moistest, the first family’s menu boasted more than enough other choices to fill the stomach.

And two kinds of stuffing: cornbread with chorizo and “roasted peppers oyster.” As for the veggies, the Obamas could enjoy some braised winter greens — collards, kale, and turnip greens — in addition to kale Caesar salad. Albers, who served in the Coast Guard, said he noticed bomb-sniffing dogs and undercover officers in the crowd, and he was pointing them out to his wife. Beyond the patrol officers who came from across the city to work crowd control, there were Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and hundreds more officers from the Counterterrorism Bureau, including about 200 from the newly formed Critical Response Command.

Inspector Scott Shanley, the commanding officer of the new unit, said that having a dedicated force — which will eventually grow to more than 500 officers — would better enable the department to thwart an attack or to react to one.

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