City officials said on Thursday they hoped Hurricane Irene does not force them to order any evacuations, but should that order comes down, city police say New Yorkers have to comply or risk getting arrested or hurt. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
The New York City Police Department says it is ready for Irene.
"Emergency service police officers, harbor launches, we have 33 boats, but emergency service officers have zodiac [inflatable] boats which are available for rescue," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly during city officials' Thursday news conference.
The NYPD also has 50 14-feet-long metal "John" boats. Purchased a few years ago after another major storm, they are being strategically placed in areas that could see extensive flooding.
An increased presence of officers will hit those neighborhoods as well.
"We will have extra deployments in those areas particularly if there is an evacuation.
We obviously have to station our personnel in those areas," said Kelly.
If evacuations are ordered, the NYPD would head up the operation. Police could force residents out if they do not leave on their own, but Kelly said he hopes extreme measures would not be needed, and that New Yorkers should just listen and take the storm seriously.
"We are not really thinking about forcing people to leave, we are assuming that common sense will prevail," said the police commissioner.
Kelly said the NYPD would be there to help those who need it.
"There are some people who are obviously not able to leave, like in nursing homes, who are not able to leave under their own power. We will help in that regard as well," said the commissioner.
NYPD helicopters will be flown to safe locations outside the city and then brought back after the storm is over. The aviation unit will then help in any search and rescue operations.
Kelly said with police officers, firefighters and EMS workers there are about 50,000 first responders in the city. He said that should be enough to handle any emergencies Hurricane Irene brings our way.