Bloomberg and Kelly update New Yorkers on security concerns after Boston Marathon explosions

By Jillian Jorgensen Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Heightened security measures will remain in effect for the immediate future in the aftermath of the explosions at the Boston Marathon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in an afternoon update at City Hall Tuesday.

“As a country, we may not be able to thwart every attack — we saw that yesterday — but we must continue to do everything we possibly can to try,” Bloomberg said, standing in front of the flags of New York City and Boston in the Blue Room at City Hall.

But despite beefed up law enforcement presence on subways, at hotels, iconic city spots and elsewhere, Bloomberg encouraged people to go about their lives.

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t go out and feel safe and enjoy the freedoms that have been fought for for 230 years,” Bloomberg said.

He took the subway to work Tuesday morning, he said, along with millions of other New Yorkers.

“As a country, we may not be able to thwart every attack… but we must continue to do everything we possibly can to try,” Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg called the Boston explosions “an act of terror,” and said terrorism remains a serious threat across the country and particularly in New York City. But he laid out a slew of things the city has done in the last decade — devoting 1,000 members of the NYPD to counter-terrorism duties, bringing in tools like license plate readers, cameras that can recognize suspicious packages, and sensors for chemical, biological and radiological threats — that can better detect a threat.

“Since yesterday afternoon we have fully mobilized our resources to protect New Yorkers from any related threats that might emerge,” Bloomberg said, but he asked New Yorkers to remain vigilant.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly underscored there have been no threats against New York.

“There were no specific threats against New York City, but in the aftermath of the horrific day that Boston experienced, we’ve prepared as if yesterday has been a prelude to an attack in New York,” Kelly said, which has been standard operating procedure since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

After asking the public to be vigilant in reporting suspicious packages, the city saw an increase in the number called in – 77 in a 24-hour period, compared to 21 from a similar period a year ago. The bomb squad responded to two calls Monday, Kelly said.

“If you see something, say something and that’s precisely what we want,” he said.

The city is “engaged in the information flow” from the FBI through its joint terrorism task force, and has reached out to offer support to Boston — though Kelly noted they have their own task force.

Kelly said the department would maintain its defensive posture going into the weekend, which will include two major runs — a 5-K run and walk to the September 11 Memorial, and a four-mile race in Central Park.

“We are certainly evaluating or re-evaluating them in light of the event that took place yesterday,” Kelly said.

Security for the New York City Marathon — still seven months away — will also be re-evaluated, Kelly said.

“We try not to have a security plan that looks exactly like it looked the year before,” he explained.

But Bloomberg emphasized the race would happen — it was canceled last year after Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s certainly our intention to have the marathon and to have all the events that make America and New York City what they are,” he said.

Asked if the Boston attack was a “game-changer,” Kelly said security has already dramatically changed since September 11.

“There’s only so much you can do. There are certain events that are going to be open just by their very nature,” Kelly said. “A marathon is 26 miles long.”

Another open event — and one that includes several miles worth of travel in Staten Island — is the TD Five-Borough Bike Tour, slated to be held May 5. Organizers have not yet responded to an Advance request for how they might change their security measures.

Bloomberg and Kelly wouldn’t comment on whether an attacker might have hit Boston because New York’s security was so tight — saying the motive for the attack was still unclear.

“Lots of cities, particularly Boston, where I happen to come from, are well-run, and they have great police departments and they have joint terrorism task forces with the FBI, the quality of the protection there is top-notch,” Bloomberg said. “It’s just a tragedy that took place. You can’t be everywhere all the time.”

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