Saturday, April 12, 2008

Safeguarding the Pope

How do you plan for a Pope who's been accused by Al Qaeda of launching a Crusade" against Islam? -- with every resource you can muster, according to the New York Times in an article on the extensive security measures taken during the papal visit:

All the locations will be swept for bombs. Some other measures will be visible: scuba divers in the East River, counter-snipers patrolling rooftops, helicopters, and armored limousines.

Other measures will not be visible, like undercover detectives mingling in crowds or officers carrying pager-sized radiation detectors on their belts.

“We don’t talk about means and methods,” said Darrin L. Blackford, a special agent with the Secret Service in Washington. “But we will devote a lot of resources to it.”

Secret Service agents, the pope’s own Swiss Guard security forces and several thousand officers from the New York Police Department will share the daily job of safeguarding the pope, leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the head of state of Vatican City. ...

“Any time a major world figure visits a city of 8 million people, there are enormous complexities, but New York is used to this,” said Michael A. L. Balboni, New York State’s deputy secretary for public safety, who has offered the city help from the state, including communications vans, specialized National Guard units and state troopers.

“What has us focused with this trip, is the post-9/11 paradigm of threat information along with the iconic structures and high visibility targets,” Mr. Balboni said.


  • NY1 News Video: Papal Security Briefing -Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Brian Parr of the Secret Service spoke to the media Thursday afternoon about the security measures and traffic changes that will be in effect during Pope Benedict XVI's three-day visit next week.