More than 1 million gather in Times Square to ring in 2015

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TIMES SQUARE (PIX11) -- It’s a time honored tradition in the days leading up to the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration:  NYPD brass talking about the security precautions they’re taking to keep us safe.

In many years, these news conferences can seem routine.

“This celebration is one of the largest televised events of the year,” said NYPD Chief of the Department Jim O’Neill.

But from time to time, when the city is already on edge -- like it was right after 9/11 -- and even now, in the wake of months of demonstrations, and the assassination of two NYPD officers, these security briefings take on an added sense of urgency and importance.

“In light of what happened two weeks ago on Saturday, of course. There’s a concern for every member of the New York City police department. This is something that’s in real recent memory. This is something that every New York City cop is concerned about,” said Chief O’Neill.

So this year, talking about cameras seen and unseen, radiological detectors, and air and land patrols is not just about making a show of force.

“You all know the deal. The powers that be in times square are looking to bring in a new year, like the old year,” said Carl Dix of the organization Stop the Mass Incarceration Network.

It’s also about being ready for planned demonstrations that could see hundreds if not thousands of people walking uptown from Union Square, to the party in Times Square in protest.

“People are going to go into Times Square, some of them are going to have signs just like this one, and other signs displaying this message. Look, all of the people who have been in the streets saying no more to murder by police. All people whose hearts have been moved to hear of another Black or Latino youth who has lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement, and the grand jury, district attorney, whatever aspect of the judicial system in this country continually finds no criminal activity. If that hurts your heart, be in times square with us delivering this message,” said Dix.

Chief O’Neill added, “In the event there are any protests tomorrow night, we have a detail set up for that, as we’ve had over the last five or six weeks. As with any new year’s eve detail, we’re absolutely concerned about the safety of everyone there - including the police officers. So there is obviously a heightened sense of security during this detail. So as we turn the police officers out, we remind them that they have to look out for each other.”