In the wake of recent terror attacks, officials are ramping up security at New Year’s Eve celebrations. In New York, a test run took place Saturday of the glittering ball in Times Square to make sure it drops right at the stroke of midnight.
The more than 1 million revelers will have to go through metal detectors. There will also be bomb-sniffing dogs and police snipers.
The street music was lively and the crowds thick on Westminster Bridge, but this an era when even an 11-year-old like Jemma knows about terrorism. She says despite her age, she knows about terrorism because “it’s all over the news and it’s like, yeah you hear about it a lot.”
In March, Westminster Bridge was the scene of a terrorist attack using a van, then a stabbing. The terrorist and five others died. A similar attack on London Bridge killed eight. The three terrorists were then shot to death.
On Saturday, amid preparations for New Year’s Eve, London police were out in force.
It was the same across Europe. Visitors to Paris are now used to seeing armed guards at tourists attractions. In France, some 230 people has been killed in terrorist attacks over the last three years. French officials say they will have 10,500 police and first responders on duty.
Police in Berlin will face of hundreds of thousands out on what’s called the “Party Mile.” They are utilizing a unique twist, small mobile police stations set up in the celebration area for rapid response to any incident, and thorough searches.
One way to fight terrorism is layering security, some police out in the open, others hidden like undercover officers in a crowd, and always watching for that one person who may attack.
“They’ve appealed to the lonewolf,” said John Miller, New York’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and terrorism. “Which makes securing any major event something that needs a layered approach, a counter-terrorism overlay. That’s the new normal.”
There is no dampening of enthusiasm for New Years. One hundred thousand people have tickets to a sold out fireworks display here on London’s Thames River.