NEW YORK (AP) — Security measures in place for the "unprecedented challenge" of Pope Francis' visit to New York City this month will include screening checkpoints, airspace restrictions and a ban on balloons, selfie sticks and backpacks at papal events, federal and city officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said the pope's visit, from Sept. 24 to Sept. 26, will be considered a National Special Security Event, meaning the Secret Service will be the lead agency for security planning.
Screening checkpoints will be set up along the route of the pope's motorcade and at events he will attend. Those hoping to catch a glimpse of his motorcade or who have tickets to a papal event will have to undergo airport-style security screenings. Also on a list of more than 25 items banned are weapons, glass or metal bottles, and signs.
Tickets are required to enter the motorcade viewing areas along Fifth Avenue and in Central Park. Authorities said they anticipate long lines.
Francis is to address world leaders at the United Nations, preside over a service at the 9/11 memorial, participate in a procession through Central Park, visit a local school and celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden. The agenda, combined with the popular pope's habit of going off-script and mixing with crowds, has created an "unprecedented challenge" for law enforcement, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
Deputy Commissioner John Miller said earlier this month that because the pope's visit will precede the United Nation's General Assembly and a planned trip of President Barack Obama to New York, police face "one of the most significantly challenging security environments maybe in the history of major policing."
The Federal Aviation Administration also has enacted a no-fly zone in parts of Manhattan and Queens. FAA regulations will make it illegal to operate a drone anywhere in the city between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30. Authorities said an enhanced security presence also will be on the waterways surrounding the city.