The NYPD has added new bomb detection technology to its layers of security at the U.S. Open as it prepares for more than 700,000 people to flood the event this year.
The new technology sees cameras placed on the roads at checkpoints to help police check for explosives that are either hidden in or attached to the bottoms of vehicles. Police are also checking the trunks and cabins of every car or truck entering the security zone near the tennis complex this year.
For weeks, security officials have been planning the added security measures.
At police headquarters, NYPD intelligence units have pored over past threats made to New York in Al Qaeda’s magazine “Inspire.”
Officials stressed there is no new threat at this time, but recent truck and bomb attacks in France, Great Britain, Spain and Germany were reason for general concern and heightened awareness.
“There is the terrorism aspect which is very serious and then there is crowd management and how you manage crowds of people and do it in a safe manner,” U.S. Open director of security Mike Rodriguez said.
The U.S. Open has its own security and operations center where cameras constantly scan the promenade, the stands and each court all at once.
Rodriguez said ticket holders were experiencing about a 10 minute delay to go through screening before getting in to their seats.
Police had also added concrete barriers along roadways to protect the thousands of pedestrians heading to the Open.
“We are building out from our cement and building our way into the stadium to target-harden the stadium against a vehicle-born improvised explosive device as well as a vehicle ramming,” NYPD counter-terror chief James Waters said.
Hundreds of police officers are on patrol in and around courts as well as on subway platforms and roadways leading to the event.
Extra police were also on hand Monday for a Lady Gaga Concert at CitiField, and for upcoming Mets games. Among them, specially trained and heavily armed officers, bomb dog handlers, and undercover officers.
Alongside the NYPD, FBI agents had also set up a command post on site for the duration of the tournament.
“Our work shifts will last from early morning until very late at night, and we are staffed every day until the final championship match,” FBI supervisor James Dennehy said.
He added that FBI intelligence officers were on scene to share threat information with partner agencies in real time.
Meanwhile NYPD aviation units were busy scanning nearby rooftops and the adjoining park for any suspicious activity.
Pilot Hassan Hamdy said the chopper – equipped with thermal imaging and at times with radiological detectors – serves as a deterrent.
“It lets you know we’re here, we’re looking and we’re gonna be here for the entire event,” Hassan said.
The Fire Department and numerous EMS crews are also on stand-by along with counter-assault units at a nearby staging area.
NYPD officials say the layers of security at the U.S. Open now rivals the kind of checkpoints and security in place at Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Every ticket holder gets screened, and there is added manpower in place in zones of security stretching for miles.
More than 700,000 people are expected to attend the U.S. Open this year. The security challenge is heightened when CitiField is in use at the same time.
“We have enough trained personnel in place to protect both venues quite nicely,” Waters said.