New York City's Ring of Steel Gets Wider

By Matthew Harwood

The network of surveillance cameras; license-plate readers; and chemical, biological, and radiological sensors that protect lower Manhattan will expand to cover mid-town, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced yesterday.

The city will use the $24 million provided by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to blanket the streets between 30th St. and 60th St., from the East River to the Hudson River, with enough security technology to hopefully sniff out a terrorist attack before it can occur. The area contains some of the city's most notable landmarks, including the Empire State Building, the United Nations, and Grand Central Terminal.

Bloomberg, according to the New York Daily News, called the project the city's " No. 1 priority, and it comes before all fiscal concerns."

The original Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, modeled off of London's "Ring of Steel," allows police to watch over some of the most valuable real estate in the world, reports MyFox New York,  from "Canal Street to Battery Park from river to river, a 1.7 square mile area in which the New York Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, World Financial Centers, World Trade Center memorial site, PATH train and numerous major financial institutions."

The Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center, established last year in the Financial District, will operate as the brain of both security initiatives, processing the perpetual flow of images and data relayed by the technology networks. The command center relies on cameras provided by private companies and allows representatives from major corporations to work alongside police.

Despite the $24 million grant from DHS, Bloomberg remains irritated that more security assistance isn't forthcoming, according to the Daily News.

The mayor is also lobbying Congress for $40 million to complete a massive screening system for radiation-spewing "dirty bombs," but says the money is being held up by "politics as usual."

He contended that the money belongs where the biggest threats are, not where politicians hope to earn votes.

"They're trying to spread Homeland Security money around the country," he said. "They've turned it into pork barrel."

♦ Photo of mid-town Manhattan skyline by meironke/Flickr


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