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New Yorkers fear what Obama visit may bring

With Barack Obama due to tour Ground Zero, some New Yorkers are afraid his presence in the city makes it vulnerable to attack.

With President Barack Obama due to tour Ground Zero at 1:30 this afternoon, some New Yorkers are in a panic — afraid his presence in the city makes it vulnerable to attack, just four days after the death of the world’s most notorious terrorist.

“I don’t want to be at Ground Zero today,” said Emmanuel Jimenez, 22, who works as a security guard in the Financial District. “I don’t think it’s 100 percent safe. There are too many people, they can’t control everything.”

Since Osama bin Laden’s death was reported on Sunday, the number of people reporting suspicious packages has spiked. There were 18 reports last Monday, April 25, and 62 this past Monday, according to the NYPD.

“New York is one of the toughest cities to secure for the president’s safety,” said retired NYPD detective Mike Codella, 48.

Codella said the NYPD works with the Secret Service’s “Advance Team” to trace out the POTUS’s route days before he arrives.

“They find out the entrances, the exits, the bathrooms and see if anything looks dangerous,” said Codella. “They’ll check out each restaurant, even where he’s going to sit.”

The FBI will also be on hand.

“The FBI in New York has put our rapid deployment team on standby,” said an FBI source. “SWAT teams, hostage negotiators and bomb technicians are ready to deploy.”

“After an event like bin Laden’s death, we need to be really ready to go on a moment’s notice,” the source said.

Locals remain uneasy. “If something happens,” feared Jimenez. “The police will catch the terrorist, but it will be too late.”

Under watchful eyes

The NYPD places potential threats under surveillance.

“There was this guy in the late ’90s who used to think he was the messiah,” recalled Codella. During a presidential visit to the city, the NYPD “would take him all over the city. They would even take him to the movies, spend the whole day with him. Spending $50 bucks was easier than tracking him.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.

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