Atlanta police ready for New Year’s following security warnings

File Photo: The Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta is a city tradition. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
File Photo: The Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta is a city tradition. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

From drunk drivers to terrorist attacks, metro Atlanta law enforcement officials say they are prepared to respond to threats that might arise this New Year’s Eve.

Last week, federal authorities issued a general warning of possible targeting of churches and holiday celebrations in this country. The notice followed an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany.

The suspect in Berlin used a truck to plow through a crowded market, killing 12 and raising the specter of lone wolf attacks using unconventional weapons.

“The FBI is aware of the recent link published online that urges attacks against U.S. churches,” said FBI spokesman Andrew Ames. “As with similar threats, the FBI is tracking this matter while we investigate its credibility.”

A spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department said it is taking the intelligence seriously and working to ensure that people are safe throughout the New Year celebration and at all events in the city.

The Peach Drop at Atlanta Underground is expected to attract 175,000 people.

Lukasz Sajdak of the APD said officers will be on 12-hour shifts and stationed all over the area.

“We will utilize our resources to assess crowds and take appropriate action against anything which may pose a danger to the public,” Sajdak wrote in an email. “We will work with other local as well as federal agencies to assure the safety of the citizens enjoying the festivities.”

Traffic will be handled accordingly, with consideration for any credible and possible threats, as in the past, he added.

Sajdak encouraged revelers to remain aware of their surroundings, keep an eye on their property and to not leave valuables in cars.

The Marietta Police Department, which will be taking the lead on providing security to festivities on Marietta Square, is also ramping up security and adding officers.

“We currently have no threats in Marietta at all,” said Officer Brittany Wallace. “Our main plan is for everyone to have fun and a safe night.”

Wallace said the department would be coordinating with Cobb’s Sheriff’s Office and Police Department.

In Decatur, Lt. Jennifer Ross said the primary concern is drunk drivers. The department is urging people to take ride sharing services, taxis or MARTA.

“We’re doing the standard ‘Don’t drink and drive,’” said Ross. “We don’t have any large gatherings scheduled in our city this weekend.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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