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Police plan tight security at Times Square

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NEW YORK (AP) - Less than two weeks after graduating from the New York City police academy, more than 1,500 rookie officers have a daunting first assignment: helping to protect Times Square on New Year's Eve.

(Photo courtesy Vincent Desjardins via Flickr)

The deployment is just one of an array of security measures - many visible, many not - that the New York Police Department rolls out each year for the event that turns the "Crossroads of the World" into a massive street party that stretches 17 blocks through the heart of Manhattan.

Behind the scenes leading up to New Year's Eve, city police officials meticulously map out how to control crowds that can swell to 1 million.

The yearly ritual also means worrying about potential terror threats.

"There will be several thousand police officers involved," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday when asked about security.

"I think we do this pretty well. We have a lot of experience in doing it." Kelly said so far there are no specific threats against Times Square.

But in the post-9/11 world, the department knows from experience - especially a botched attempted car bombing in the summer of 2010 - that Times Square is a potential terror target.

Backed by the Pakistani Taliban, Faisal Shahzad left a Nissan Pathfinder outfitted with a crude, homemade propane-and-gasoline bomb on a block teeming with tourists.

The explosive malfunctioned, but the near-miss spread a wave of fear across the city. Shahzad was arrested and, after a guilty plea, sentenced to life in prison.

But he warned, "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun."

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