The New York Police Department and the Mayor’s office have responded to questions posed by Metrosource about safety during this year’s Pride festivities.
Between three and four million out-of-towners are expected during the month of Pride. In part, the city will see more than the usual influx of LGBTQ tourists because 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that began the equal rights movement in America.
The other reason is that, for the first time ever, WorldPride is coming to America — in observance of the same Stonewall milestone.
Last year, the British government issued advisories to help travelers stay safe while attending the World Cup in Russia. But far from the repressive society there, visitors to America face the opposite challenge. Citizens and tourists enjoy tremendous freedom of movement here and surveillance is tightly controlled.Find LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
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Safe At Home
That kind of freedom not only means that revelers can come and go as they please. It also means that those who might wish LGBTQ people harm have the same mobility. We asked New York’s law enforcement and the mayor’s office what plans are in place to prevent a large-scale terrorist event like the PULSE nightclub massacre. We also asked about smaller skirmishes — like the one that led to the Proud Boys beating victims on the streets of Manhattan while screaming “Faggot” at them.
The city spokesmen’s responses (culled from the combined contributions of both law enforcement and the office of the mayor) were straightforward, simple and unequivocal.
New York City is renowned for its infrastructure, and no city on the planet does more to make sure that its services meet the needs of its residents and those who visit. That said, personal responsibility and remaining alert will help the NYPD do its work more effectively.
Here are the answers to our questions, all asked under the broad umbrella: How do tourists and locals remain safe in crowds, clubs and while navigating the city?
Our Q & A
METROSOURCE: Between three and four million people are expected to visit the city during the month of WorldPride and NYC Pride. What kinds of measures do the police undertake to keep visitors safe during something of that magnitude?
NYPD: The NYPD takes a multi-layered approach when securing large scale events. Officers and resources are routinely re-allocated during these events to ensure there are the appropriate number of officers available to handle the scheduled events, “pop up” events and unforeseen emergencies. The focus in prevention, by pre-deploying personnel, supplies and equipment; planning in advance based on where and when events are and where there will be large groups of people; and working closely with event organizers and partners throughout the city. We must also be ready to respond to any situation that may arise.
There will be more police visible on and around public transportation and in areas that are historic or significant to the LGBTQ Community. The NYPD has a robust counterterrorism apparatus that is among the best, if not the best, in the world. Our Counterterrorism Officers are highly trained and equipped with the very best, and these operators serve both as a deterrent and a response component. People should expect to see Counterterrorism Officers posted at all major events and venues during Pride Month. There will also be officers and assets deployed where you won’t see them, to enhance fast response should there be an incident.
Additionally, we will be coordinating with our partners from the FBI, New York and New Jersey State Police agencies, the Port Authority Police, the MTA and other transit agencies to the utility companies – all to ensure that we are working together to create the safest experience for the participants and our residents.
We also strive to maintain the highest level of public safety while balancing community sensitivities at the same time. Importantly, we want those who come to NYC for these festivities to be and feel safe, and comfortable.
Knowledge Is Power
METROSOURCE: What are law enforcement personnel being told about this month-long series of Pride events? Anything different from the usual?
NYPD: With the anticipated arrival of so many more visitors for an event that easily rates as one of the largest annual events New York City will host, our officers and our partner agencies will receive a comprehensive internal plan for training and information sharing.
This is currently being developed by the Police Commissioner’s Office. Specifically, the Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) — an organization made up of LGBTQ + ally criminal justice professionals and community supporters that is recognized by the NYPD and has partnered with the department for over twenty years in training police personnel — will have a significant and unique role in advising the agency this year. Their immediate past president, Detective Carl Locke currently serves as the Police Commissioner’s LGBTQ Liaison. Detective Locke is a veteran activist and has previously served in management roles at both Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the New York City Anti Violence Project. He has also written the current curriculum utilized by the department to train officers in LGBTQ sensitivity and awareness.
As an agency, the NYPD will mark and honor the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion by emphasizing the twin virtues of the department’s Neighborhood Policing philosophy — protecting and respecting all who attend this special event.
Make Smart Choices
METROSOURCE: What kinds of problems are 311 and what rises to the level of a 911 call? What do people commonly mis-assume about these phone numbers?
NYPD: 911 is for emergency situations, when someone is facing a life-threatening situation or injury. NYC311 provides access to non-emergency City services and information about City government programs. NYC311 is available online and by phone.
- Parking issues
- Noise that is not causing danger
- Parking and street closure information
- Call 911 to report:
- A crime or medical emergency
- Fighting, screaming, gunshots, explosions, or suspicious breaking of glass or wood
- Noise from a large party or crowd that is causing danger
In a Crowd, or on Your Own
METROSOURCE: Let’s talk specifics: What kinds of things should remain mindful about — behaviors around them? Times of day? The place they might happen to be, like a nightclub?
NYPD: We would like to stress the importance of vigilance, situational awareness and shared responsibility. The NYPD relies on its collaboration with communities and neighborhoods to assist police. “If you see something, say something.” Please bring an unattended package to the attention of one of the many officers in the event area. If you are the victim of a crime, call 911 or flag down an officer. If there is a weapon present or an explosion, you should seek shelter, call 911, and await the instructions of first responders. If someone is being belligerent or verbally hostile or aggressive, or using offensive or inflammatory hate speech, please tell the NYPD. People are encouraged to reach out to us. If something feels off or uncomfortable, or potentially dangerous, the NYPD wants to hear from you. The bottom line: this is why we are here — to keep people safe and ensure that everyone who attends can enjoy this landmark event without fear, anxiety or discomfort.
For an event of this magnitude, the NYPD will be assigning a detail which will include units from CRC, SRG, ESU and Counterterrorism. (An explanation of each follows.)
Critical Response Command (CRC) is one of the Department’s first lines of defense against a terrorist-related attack. A permanent cadre of hand-selected police officers devoted to counterterrorism, CRC members are trained to respond swiftly with sufficient expertise and force to the most highly organized and heavily armed attacks. All CRC team members are trained in special weapons and long-range guns, explosive trace detection, radiological and nuclear awareness, biological and chemical weapons awareness, and are equipped with the skills to detect an impending attack and utilize the best possible response to an emerging situation. The team conducts daily counterterrorism deployments to critical infrastructure sites throughout New York City, saturating strategic locations with a uniform presence to disrupt and deter terrorist planning and hostile surveillance operations.
Strategic Response Group responds to citywide mobilizations, civil disorders, and major events with highly trained personnel and specialized equipment. They are also deployed to areas requiring an increased police presence due to increased crime or other conditions. With multiple missions that include disorder response, crime suppression, and crowd control, SRG has proven to be a critical asset during events like parades, protests, and the papal visit. SRG also mobilizes for shootings, bank robberies, missing persons, demonstrations, or other significant incidents.
The Bottom Line
METROSOURCE: Without naming names, are anti-LGBTQ groups going to be under any increased scrutiny during Pride season?
NYPD: The NYPD and partner agencies monitor open source information as it relates to any hate groups that threaten or promote violence. Hate has no place in New York City, and the NYPD has zero tolerance when it comes to violence, and any incidents of violence against the LGBTQ Community will be met with the full weight of our police resources. Additionally, and as much as possible, we will coordinate investigative action and arrests in partnership with local District Attorney’s Offices to ensure a successful prosecution of the offenders.
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Last modified: March 6, 2019