Counter-Terror Expert Bruce Alexander Talks New Year’s Eve Security in New York, London, Paris

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New Year's Eve celebrations around the world bring millions of tourists and revelers to enjoy live outdoor festivities and head back home with bragging rights of braving the weather, crowds and yes, security, to ring in the New Year.

New York City's Times Square, considered the granddaddy of all New Year's Eve celebrations, is adapting to the increasing security challenges in a modern world. Security measures in 2017 bring additional safety precautions in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks and the Las Vegas massacre.

Security, in 2017, has taken on a new dimension as terror experts are explaining large venue events presents both a unique challenge and an opportune target. Securing and protecting attendees in any major city, including New York, London and Paris, is not new and begins months in advance.


Update: Gunman Kills at least 58; Injures more than 500 in Las Vegas Concert Shooting


With Las Vegas massacre, improvised and planned explosives and vehicle attacks considered the primary focus Law Enforcement counter-terror teams will be working on the major coordinated and lone wolf attacks while also focusing on unplanned, drunken and mentally disturbed individual attacks.

Manhattan has seen an increase in vehicle attacks. In June a vehicle attacked killed one and injured twenty others. On October 31, 2017, the weekend of the NYC Marathon, a vehicle truck attack plowed down a bicycle path in lower Manhattan killing eight and injuring eleven. The Marathon went off without a hitch. Most recently a suicide bomber, wearing a pipe bomb that malfunctioned, attempted to detonate himself in the Port Authority.

Terrorist Attacks around the world has sparked a resilience in citizens of Spain, survivors of the Las Vegas Massacre, in London, in Manchester, in Paris, in Saint Petersburg, in Istanbul, and in New York who are determined to live free and not in fear.

Counterterror Measures in New York, London, Paris

Mr. Bruce Alexander, a Counterterror and Law Enforcement Expert with over thirty years of law enforcement, intelligence, counter-terrorism and security experience in both the government and private sector. His expertise includes analysis of terrorist threats, tactics and operations, surveillance detection, suicide bombers, facility protection, Political Islam, and Executive Protection. He has operational experience in the Middle East and Africa, and is well versed in geopolitical issues related to terrorism.

Having the opportunity to discuss the upcoming counterterror measures in New York, London and Paris, with Mr. Alexander, who graciously replied to a short notice request. Below is his response.

Janet Walker: Hello. Thanks so much. I'm looking for your expert opinion on possible counterterror measures expected for the annual Time Square Celebration taking into consideration what the New York Police Department has released to the media I'm sure is the top of the iceberg.  

Also, what counter-terror measures one can expect in London and Paris in wake of the general belief that most experts believe in the "when and not if" theory regarding the next terror attack?

Bruce AlexanderLaw Enforcement’s (LE) approach to protecting major event venues and locations on New Year’s Eve (NYE) will be fairly standardized whether in NYC, London, or Paris. The threat of a terrorist attack on NYE is not a new phenomenon. Consequently LE in major cities have long had counterterrorism plans, and procedures “on-the-shelf” for such occasions.

The security procedures implemented on NYE is a manifestation of procedures that began months, and weeks prior to NYE. In fact the efforts that occur before the event directly impact the procedures implemented on NYE.

Pre-event LE actions focus on intelligence collection, and analysis combined with investigations predicated on the existence of per-attack indicators. As the event date draws closer, the public space security measures are developed predicated on known threat indicators developed during the intelligence and investigations phase i.e. known and credible threats and likely actors.

During the actual event, LE will implement a "defense in depth" layer over the event sites consisting of an outer ring of security which screens to identify threats well before the event location. Typically this consists of traffic control points, discrete surveillance, cameras, license plate analysis etc., patrol of public transportation venues and monitoring of crowd patterns, size etc.


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The middle ring will consist of measures, and technology such as metal detectors, explosive detectors, various sensors, canine units, and traffic restriction such as limiting access on roadways, street closures, bollards as well as increased Police visibility, on-street Police presence and reserve Police forces.

The event site is the inner most circle and is the most 'hardened" ring where access to the event site is restricted, crowd screening is most rigorous including a second level of technology screening, the largest presence of both uniformed and plainclothes Police, and a tactical Police presence.

However this NYE there will be notably differences between how Police in major European cities will deploy and Police in major U.S. cities.

London, Paris Counterterror Focus

European Police will focus on the most likely threats in Europe consisting primarily of improvised explosives, vehicle attacks, and in some cities, attacks of a sexual nature directed at women. While the threat of explosives and vehicle attacks is equally present in the U.S., the "nightmare scenario" especially in NYC, is a Las Vegas style attack on crowds. Every high rise building, roof top and open window is a potential attack position.

Although Police are prepared for this type of threat using such measures as counter snipers, what makes the Las Vegas attack difficult to prevent, and to stop is that it does not require a high degree of skill to be effective. It only requires minimal time, and sufficient ammunition to achieve maximum lethality.

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