NOT A BANG, BUT A WHIMPER OF SECURITY

Did you know that in New York City a van, obviously abandoned, parked in the heart of Times Square, with no license plates, a bogus law enforcement placard and tinted windows is considered to be suspicious only once a year? Not until yesterday at 11 a.m., while the NYPD was busily preparing and delightfully collecting overtime for our highly-publicized New Year’s Eve festivities, was the van spotted by patrol officers.

Only then did counter-terrorism experts, bomb squad crews and other dubious security troupes respond to the scene. The area was immediately closed to traffic, buildings evacuated, and for two hours special reports were devoted to New York’s Finest, equipped with the latest technology, heroic efforts in protecting us as they diligently sifted through the sinister van. No explosive devices were found and Times Square was reopened to crowds and traffic and to business as usual.

“If You See Something, Say Something” was the catchphrase spoonfed to us in the wake of 9/11. Unfortunately, those entrusted with our security oftentimes not only fail to see anything but also fail to do anything. It was bad enough that this 1992 Dodge van (again, minus plates and tinted windows, both illegal in NYC) was sitting for at least two days in one of the most popular and crowded spots in the world before it was investigated but the vehicle was so obviously suspicious to anyone with eyes.

The van was partially covered with a tarp with a placard reading “Detective’s Crime Clinic, New York/ New Jersey area” (a nonexistent law enforcement agency) and this alone should have caught the attention of any real police officer; there was more than enough time: “A similar-looking van in the same location appeared on Google Street View in warmer weather, which suggests it could have been there for a while.”

Nevertheless, I may be overreacting. Chief NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne said, “There were no corresponding terror threats involving the vehicle.” We all know that a terrorist would never detonate a bomb without first making an appointment and issuing an announcement. However, because I believe that I did indeed “see something” in this incident: an absurdity… I just had to “say something.”

WCBS

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