Outside down on Whitehall Street there’s a phalanx of uniformed cops and a double row of prowl cars, parked nose-out into the street on both sides for at least two full blocks. Side streets are blocked off and formations are directing pedestrians through the ranks, and teams are securing intersections and passing police traffic through them.
We wouldn’t have noticed except the building PA buzzed into life to tell us not to panic; they’re calling this a high-visibility anti-terrorist drill. Our resident wags – OK, yes, that would include me – point out that this is hardly going to stop crackpots from flying planes into skyscrapers, but in watching the maneuvers I realize that the point here is moving a large force into a narrow area quickly and efficiently. In other words, it’s not so much to stop things from happening as to set down practice for cleaning them up.
I work some blocks south of the World Trade Center, along the red-zone chin of downtown that was closed after 9/11 for a week. The security weather down here is sensitive still. In the bio-weapon period our office was inside a medical cordon for an anthrax scare across the street (we’re in the Topps building, an unlikely target except for terrorists who weren’t allowed to collect baseball cards as kids and got pathological about it, but we’re next to NASDAQ). There’s something about portable chemical showers and guys in Hazmat suits evacuating secretaries down the way that just worries a body. It was a false alarm, of course.
The drill is over now; the police pulled out as fast and as quietly as they pulled in. Which is, I gather, the point.