NEW YORK (PIX11) — From houses of worship to transit hubs, schools, and elsewhere, Friday saw an enhanced security presence at locations all over the tri-state region, in response to a declared Day of Protest in support of Palestinians. Law enforcement authorities said that they hadn’t detected any credible security threat in and around New York City, but that the utmost diligence was necessary anyway.
That was well on display at places like Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women in Midtown. Throughout the day, at least one NYPD patrol was parked outside, and officers also checked in with the Jewish college’s large in-house security force.
As John Mueller, the chief of the MTA Police Department, pointed out at a security news conference on Friday morning, the heightened police presence is part of a region-wide effort.
“We are increasing our presence and our visibility,” Chief Mueller said. “This is about giving a comfort level to our ridership.”
Mueller had just returned from Israel, where he’d been at a security conference 10 miles north of Gaza when the war broke out last weekend. On Friday, he joined MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and NYPD Transit Chief Michael Kemper at Grand Central Terminal to talk about enhanced security assets.
“We have New York State Police, we have the NYPD, we have the MTA” police on site at Grand Central, and around the city, he said. “We have multiple agencies working together.”
For their part, transit riders told PIX11 News that while they appreciated seeing police and other uniformed officers around, they intended to carry on whether or not law enforcement was visible.
“You have to live your life,” said Annika Strauss, who was waiting for the 6 train at 33rd Street. “You can’t live on the what-ifs. Otherwise, you’d be holed up in your apartment every day. You have to live.”
Mamadou Bah was also waiting for the subway. “Everybody on the train is safer,” he said, about the police presence, visible or not. “No problem, no nothing.”
Still, some people, including some subway riders, said they were playing it safe, out of an abundance of caution.
“We’re going to the park,” said Kaitlin Shea, just before boarding the train. “But maybe I wouldn’t go to a crowded building today.”
At New York City Public Schools, Chancellor David Banks sent out a statement to parents and administrators on Thursday saying that there was no credible threat.
Still, many individual schools citywide adopted their own policies for Friday classes. School of the Future was one of a variety of campuses that allowed any student feeling uneasy to take an excused absence.
Staff confirmed that there had been a noticeably lower turnout in classrooms on Friday.
Vanessa Santos is the parent of a public school student in Brooklyn. She said that she wanted all of the city’s nearly 1 million students to stay safe, but also felt that they should be in class.
“I appreciate that they’re giving families that option” to have an excused absence, she said, but added, “Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary.”