Times Square: How safe is New York's 'Crossroads of the World'?
Times Square is a high-profile target for terrorists, including the alleged Boston Marathon bombers. But a huge investment in counterterrorism has helped keep New York's No. 1 tourist attraction relatively safe.
In Pictures Learning from the Boston Marathon bombings
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“Are we paying attention to them? Are we really paying attention to these boxes and what’s in them?” questions Sergeant Mullins, who is also president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the second largest police union in the city.
During a walking tour of the area, he turns to some new solar-powered trash containers, which have the ability to compress trash but are not transparent.
RECOMMENDED: Quiz: How much do you know about terrorism?
“Look, no one is paying attention to that. You can put a Pepsi can in there but what else goes in there? We don’t know,” he says.
The sergeant’s questions are not necessarily rhetorical.
The Times Square “bow tie," which encompasses about 13 blocks of tourist attractions, theaters, and office towers, has been a destination for potential terrorists as well as millions of tourists. In 2010, Faisal Shahzad, an immigrant, tried but failed to detonate explosives packed into an SUV parked in the crowded area. And, before they were stopped, the alleged Boston Marathon bombers are reported to have decided to drive to New York to try to set off their deadly explosives in Times Square.
So, just how safe is the city’s No. 1 tourist attraction?
The truth is that city officials are not sure.
Shortly after Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been killed and his brother, Dzhokhar, had been wounded and captured, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “We don’t know that we would have been able to stop the terrorists, had they arrived here from Boston. We’re just thankful we didn’t have to find out.”
On Tuesday, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, speaking at The Atlantic magazine’s New York Ideas Forum, said, “There is a constant stream of individuals trying to come here and kill us.”
Mr. Kelly credited “sheer luck” as well as the city’s huge investment in counterterrorism with helping to keep the city relatively safe. “Our camerawork is very important,” said Kelly.