2003-03-27 / From The Mayor...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

Keeping City Safe Is Mayor
From The Mayor’s Desk...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

Keeping City Safe Is Mayor’s Top Priority

The war in Iraq is uppermost in our minds. Now that the fighting is underway, I don’t think it matters whether a week ago, you favored or opposed launching this effort to disarm Saddam Hussein. The important thing is that we’re all united in supporting our men and women in uniform, and in praying that the conflict in which they are engaged is short, successful, and as bloodless as possible.

As New Yorkers, we’re also well aware that events halfway around the globe can turn own lives upside down. We’ve learned all too well that the world can be a dangerous place-a reality that people in other lands have lived with for a much longer time.

With hostilities overseas underway, the NYPD has implemented a set of increased security measures. Its plan, known as Operation Atlas, was formulated over the last month by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Operation Atlas includes some highly visible elements. There is now an augmented police presence at many locations throughout the city, including checkpoints at our bridges and tunnels and stepped up patrols on the subways and on our waterways.

Other parts of Operation Atlas are not as noticeable. They include air monitoring by teams trained in de-tecting and handling chemical, biological and radiological contamination, and also ongoing intelligence gathering.

I spent 30 minutes with President Bush and Homeland Security Secre-tary Tom Ridge at the White House on March 19, briefing them on the steps we’ve taken to protect New York City. I was pleased to hear Secretary Ridge tell reporters later something that all New Yorkers should find re-assuring: no city in the country does a better job, across the board, in preventing terrorism.

Federal assistance, in the form of airspace restrictions and the return of flight patrols to the skies above our city, is an important part of our security measures. The President recognizes that New York has special needs in combating terrorism, and I’m confident that he will take that into account as his Administration proposes additional appropriations for homeland security in the weeks ahead.

What should average New Yorkers do in these trying times? Naturally, we should all be vigilant. If you see something you feel is suspicious, call 911 or the counter-terrorism hotline at 1-888-NYC-SAFE. And then let the professionals handle it.

But the most important thing is that we continue to live our normal lives-going to work, sending our child-ren to school, and enjoying evenings out with friends and family. Over the past week I have met New Yorkers from all over the City — on subways, at lunch in midtown, at Madison Square Garden, in Times Square, com-munity meetings in Queens, and at church services in Brooklyn. And whatever views we have on the war’s necessity, one message is loud and clear from everyone I met — we will not be immobilized by fear.

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