Governor Cuomo Announces Enhanced Security Preparations For Pope Francis' Visit to New York

Governor Cuomo highlighted a number of security enhancements taking place to support Pope Francis’ visit to New York, coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

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Albany, NY - September 23, 2015 - Governor Cuomo highlighted a number of security enhancements taking place to support Pope Francis’ visit to New York, coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly meeting. The Governor will activate the Emergency Operations Center in Albany and the Regional Operations Center in New York City beginning at 8:00 am on Thursday, Sept. 24, and these locations will be staffed by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and key state planning and response agencies. The Emergency Operations Center will maintain situational awareness and strategic overview of the events and provide planning and logistics support as necessary.

“Pope Francis’ visit is an incredibly exciting time for the millions of people who plan to visit New York City to mark the occasion,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are taking every precaution to keep people safe during His Holiness’ visit, and I want to thank our local and federal partners for helping us prepare for this one-of-a-kind event. I encourage New Yorkers and our visitors alike to remain alert and help us create an enjoyable experience for all.”

Agencies with staff joining the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) at the Emergency Operations Centers will include the Office of Emergency Management, State Police, Military and Naval Affairs, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications, Department of Transportation, Thruway Authority, Department of Public Service, Department of Health, and the American Red Cross.

Following a visit to Washington, D.C., Pope Francis will arrive in the State of New York for his first, historic visit on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Pope will have a full schedule of events, including evening prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sept. 24. On Friday, Sept. 25, the Pope will address the United Nations General Assembly in the morning, then visit Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem, and conclude with Mass at Madison Square Garden in the afternoon. He will depart for Philadelphia on Saturday morning.

To support this activation, personnel and assets from several State agencies will be stationed at DHSES strategic stockpiles located in Bloomingburg (Orange County), John F. Kennedy International Airport (Queens), and Brentwood (Suffolk County). A National Guard Civil Support Team and DHSES Mass Care Support Trailer will be stationed in the field in Manhattan and Department of Transportation “low-boy” trailers that can mobilize quickly and deliver stockpile assets rapidly in the event of an incident, are pre-staged at these stockpiles. Additionally, personnel from the New York State Office of Emergency Management will be staffing key operations centers during the Papal visit, including the Federal Multi Agency Coordination Center and Joint Information Center, the NYPD Joint Operations Center, and on Friday, the Port Authority of NY/NJ Emergency Operations Center.

DHSES command staff have been in collaboration with the United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Division of Homeland Security, New York Police Department and other agencies and will be deployed to key operations centers throughout New York City. They will serve as decision making and communications conduits to the New York State EOC, as well as be the point of contact for any requests for State assistance.

“An unprecedented event such as the honor of hosting a visit from Pope Francis as well as a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly is a huge challenge and takes months of planning and collaboration on the federal, state and local levels,” said DHSES Commissioner John Melville. “I am grateful to our partners at every level of government who have been working diligently to ensure that visitors that are traveling to New York for this historic event will have a positive and memorable experience.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the 2015 Papal Visit to New York, a National Special Security Event and has implemented safety and security measures for the event.

Governor Cuomo previously announced additional transit service due to the surge of travelers expected during Pope Francis' visit to New York later this month. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority will add extra service and will have additional crew on hand to coincide with the papal events. Access to the Pope’s events is strictly limited to ticket-holders, and those without tickets are advised to avoid the locations the Pope is visiting. People who can avoid traveling into Manhattan on those days should do so, since many street closures near those locations will result in traffic congestion and pedestrian diversions.

Customers taking the New York City Subway, Metro-North Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road or PATH trains for papal events should buy round-trip MetroCards or train tickets in advance and expect some crowding. Prior to the Pope’s visit, travelers are encouraged to sign up for text and email alerts to stay immediately informed about changing transit and traffic conditions. MTA alerts are available here and Port Authority alerts here.