NEW YORK (AP) - Police tightened protections after Iraq’s prime minister said captured Islamic State militants disclosed a plot to attack U.S. and Paris subways, but New York’s mayor and governor said there was no specific, credible threat currently to the nation’s biggest subway system.
Bag inspections were being set up at some subway stations, more bomb-sniffing dogs and surveillance teams were deployed, and officers were working overtime and doing extra checks of subway stations, Police Commissioner William Bratton said. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo both took trains themselves Thursday to send a message of watchful safety, and after years of reports of potential terror threats, many riders took the news in stride.
“If you have fear in New York, it’s not a great place to live,” said Sean Grissom, who has played cello in the subway system for years. “I am cautious. … But you have to go about your life.”
While security throughout the city and its transit system already was heightened for the United Nations General Assembly meeting, more officers are being deployed while law enforcement assesses what Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi told journalists Thursday. French and American officials said they had no such information.
“We have received information which, in the eyes of the United States government and the NYPD, is not verified. So what we’re doing is taking precautions until we have more information,” de Blasio said at a news conference after he and Bratton rode a subway under Manhattan.
A couple of hours earlier, Cuomo took a different train with the head of the transit system. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday announced increased security across their states, citing increased activity by terrorist groups overseas. More uniformed officers are being added at transit hubs and on trains, and security is being heightened at the area’s bridges, tunnels and ports, the governors said.
“New York is more prepared than it has ever been,” Cuomo said Thursday after hopping off a subway under Penn Station.
About 5.5 million daily passengers take city subways, and New Yorkers have experienced many warnings of possible terror plots since the Sept. 11 attacks. Subway rider Mike Connell said he felt comfortable with the steps officials were taking.
“This is the No. 1 target in the world, so we’re going to up the ante here,” he said, but authorities “are on it.”
A sense of heightened fear has become a new norm for New Yorkers, said Candace Brito, a 29-year-old nurse, as she waited for a train.
Still, recent events surrounding the Islamic State militants have raised her concerns further.
“I don’t know how safe we are, to be honest with you,” she said.
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.
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