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Cover Story

Smooth Sailing in the Big Apple

More than a year in planning, the nine-day OpSail 2000 drew together several dozen police agencies and thousands of officers into one cohesive, effective security force.

October 01, 2000  |  by Shelly Feuer Domash

The wind was firmly at NYPD's back over the Independence Day weekend.

What could have been a logistical nightmare—replete with miscues, bruised egos or worse—at the city's largest event on record, instead developed into a finely tuned, dynamic project that set sail for its duration without major incident.

The July 4th holiday in New York City posed a unique challenge for its police department. Unlike the thousands of cities across the nation that celebrated for one night with fireworks displays and large picnics. New York City stretched its hospitality over nine days hosting 15,000 sailors and military personnel assigned to 27 naval ships from 14 countries and another 120 tall sailing ships from 23 countries.

And, if providing the security for this diverse group was not enough of a task for NYPD, President Clinton made an official visit to the city where he boarded the battleship USS Hue City and proceeded to perform a formal military review of the naval fleet. He then boarded the aircraft carrier the USS John F. Kennedy and watched the official opening parade of OpSail 2000.

While the parade of sail began, 42 modern, vintage military and civilian aircraft performed a joint military fly over. Over 3,000 V.I.P.'s were transported out to the reviewing ships to watch the parade of ships.

With most of the events taking place in the confines of New York City, the NYPD played a major role in the planning and execution of the events security.

Prior to OpSail, New York City's largest event was New Years Eve, 2000, when approximately half of the department's 40,000 personnel were deployed. While not giving exact figures, police department officials reported that the number was increased for the July 4th OpSail and some unofficial reports put that number at an unprecedented 28,000 officers.

Officially, the event was designated by the Attorney General as a "National Security Event," which designated the U.S. Secret Service as the lead agency, the Federal bureau of Investigation as crisis management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as consequence management in the event of a major incident.

Since the celebration took place mostly in New York, it was the New York Police Department that took on the major portion of the planning and deployment.

The planning began with the Operations Division of the NYPD in June 1999. its success required the cooperation of 27 law enforcement agencies and numerous non-law enforcement agencies from both New York and New Jersey. Some of these law enforcement agencies included police departments from Amtrack, Bayonne, Bergen County, Hoboken, jersey City, Metropolitan transportations, Nassau County, New Jersey State, New Jersey Transit, New York State, New York State Environmental Conservation, Port Authority and Staten Island Rapid Transit.

Federal Agencies included were the F.B.I., the F.A.A., the U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Customs, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Immigration and naturalization Service, united States Marine Corps, U.S. navy, U.S. Parks, and the U.S. Secret Service.

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