Keeping NYC Safe Is My First Priority
Now that the war in Iraq is underway, I don’t think it matters whether you favored or opposed launching the effort to disarm Saddam Hussein. The important thing is that we’re all united in supporting our men and women in uniform, and in praying that the conflict is short, successful, and as bloodless as possible.
As New Yorkers, we’re also well aware that events halfway around the globe can turn our own lives upside down. We’ve learned that the world can be a dangerous place—a reality that people in other lands have lived with.
With hostilities overseas underway, the NYPD has implemented a set of increased security measures. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has formulated their plan, Operation Atlas, which includes some highly visible elements. An augmented police presence is at many locations throughout the city, including bridges and tunnels and stepped up patrols on the subways and waterways. Other parts of Operation Atlas are not as noticeable. They include air monitoring by teams trained in detecting and handling chemical, biological and radiological contamination, and also ongoing intelligence gathering.
Recently I met with President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge at the White House briefing them on the steps we’ve taken to protect NYC. I was pleased to hear Sec. Ridge tell reporters later something that all New Yorkers should find reassuring: that no city in the country does a better job, across the board, in preventing terrorism.
Federal assistance, in the form of airspace restrictions and the return of flight patrols to the skies above our city, is an important part of our security measures. The President recognizes that New York has special needs in combating terrorism, and I’m confident that he will take that into account as he proposes additional appropriations for homeland security.
What should average New Yorkers do in these trying times? Naturally, we should all be vigilant. If you see something suspicious, call 911 or the counter-terrorism hotline at 1-888-NYC-SAFE. And then let the professionals handle it. But the most important thing is that we continue to live our normal lives—going to work, sending our children to school, and enjoying evenings out with friends and family. Over the past week I have met New Yorkers from all over the City—on subways, at lunch in midtown, at Madison Square Garden, in Times Square, community meetings in Queens, and at Church services in Brooklyn. And whatever views we have on the war’s necessity, one message is loud and clear from everyone I met—we will not be immobilized by fear.#