As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches, Security Stays Mum
CREDIT: White House photo by Pete Souza
Preparations for the influx of people at the Sept. 11 tenth anniversary ceremonies will likely involve a huge undertaking for law enforcement in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa. but the agencies involved are being tight-lipped about their security plans.
Detective Martin Speechley of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) public information office would acknowledge only that the department expected Manhattan to be busier than usual and that the police would deploy additional personnel. He did not reveal anything beyond that.
A call to New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the subways, buses, commuter rail lines and some bridges, got a similar response. Calls to the Washington, D.C., Metro Police were not returned.
In New York, several police agencies will be working together. Besides the NYPD, there is the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, whose officers man the airports, tunnels and some bridges into the city, including those from New Jersey.
Meanwhile, there will also be a heavy presence from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service, since both President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush will be attending the ground zero ceremony. (Obama will also attend ceremonies at the Pentagon and in Shanksville.)
Bigger than ever
Local officials expect the influx at ground zero to be even bigger than the previous 9/11 commemoration ceremonies, each of which attracted thousands. Four million people visited the official ground zero memorial in its first year, more than 1,000 people per day. The crowds for the week surrounding the tenth anniversary date are expected to be many times larger.
For New York, the big issue is likely to be congestion and traffic. The Department of Transportation will be essentially halting the incessant construction in the area, which will make guarding dignitaries a little easier. There's likely to be an increased police presence in the surrounding subway stations more than just pairs of uniformed police officers randomly searching large bags.
In New York's main train stations, Grand Central Station and Pennsylvania Station, National Guardsmen have been posted ever since the 9/11 attacks. Commuters and tourists should expect to see more of them during the tenth anniversary.
Washington, D.C., will also see more uniformed men in its train and bus stations, as well as a heavier armed presence for the various ceremonies near and in the Pentagon . One Pentagon ceremony is invitation-only, for the families, which by itself will involve security to keep out gate-crashers.
In all three locations, additional officers will be on hand to handle traffic. This is especially true in New York, where several streets are already have permanent checkpoints. Some are manned intermittently, such as the intersection of Liberty Street and Trinity Place near ground zero, while others have a more constant police presence, such as the intersections surrounding the New York Stock Exchange.
Odds are that the entire downtown area will be essentially shut to vehicle traffic and all checkpoints will be manned. (Since the anniversary happens to fall on a Sunday, this is likely to have minimal impact on normal business.) If you plan to attend any of the three ceremonies, you may not have to carry your ID out all the time, but you're likely to see a heavier police presence than usual.
Tiny Shanksville, with a population of less than 300, already gets 150,000 visitors per year around 400 people a day. That number is expected to go way up for the tenth anniversary ceremony, as both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are expected to appear. The Somerset County Sheriff's Office and police officers from neighboring townships and boroughs are expected to put in extra security presence if possible.