Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Suspicious Package Incidents Remind New Yorkers City Still On High Alert

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TWC News: Suspicious Package Incidents Remind New Yorkers City Still On High Alert
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The closure of Canal Street after a suspicious package found on a Downtown subway was just one part of a busy day for police, fire and other agencies trained to handle multiple disasters at the same time. NY1's Andrew Siff has more on how that plan was put into practice.

You can't get there from here.

That's what pedestrians walking from Park Row to Centre Street were told Wednesday. Police, with the help of court officers, had sealed off the sidewalk after a report of a suspicious package and a driver being questioned near the Brooklyn Bridge.

And it happened only an hour or so after a suspicious duffel bag turned up on the Number 1 train, leading to a subway shutdown in Lower Manhattan.

Late Wednesday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told NY1 the incidents were unrelated and posed no actual threat.

"We have no indication that these things were done because the holiday is coming upon us,” Kelly said. “These are just two events that happen here in the big city. They don't seem to be driven by any particular date or any particular plan."

Regardless of the calendar, New Yorkers were once again reminded the city remains on heightened alert. Counter-terrorism officers cordoned off sections of Canal Street, and bio-terror training measures were used as first responders decontaminated themselves.

And there was no time for a battle of the badges, as the city's Office of Emergency Management press officer even decided who would speak first at the news briefing.

"It's just part of our normal gearing up process,” said FDNY Chief Harold Meyers. “Fire Department and Police Department worked as a team here, holding back the traffic, securing the area.”

Police officials defended the traffic tie-ups and huge response to the situation. It’s part of the post-9/11 reality, when the NYPD dispatches counter-terrorism teams to what might have been dismissed in the past as a hoax.

For example, an initial test on the powdery liquid found on the subway was inclusive, so authorities prepared for the worst.

"The concern was that it was anthrax,” Kelly said. “And that's simply not the case."

As for the closed sidewalk near the Brooklyn Bridge, there was more caution after the driver of a car acted suspiciously.

"There was a car, an individual said he was given money to drive the car over the bridge by someone he didn't know,” Kelly said. “That proved to be an unfounded report."

As one police commander put it, there are unfounded reports every day. But until they're proven unfounded, New Yorkers wiill continue to see responses like this one.

--Andrew Siff
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