Boston Marathon announces increased security
Boston Marathon organizers detailed what they called a comprehensive security plan Monday for the April 21 race, following last year’s bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260.
Some 36,000 runners -- 9,000 more than last year -- and perhaps more than one million spectators are expected for the 26.2-mile race on Patriots’ Day.
They will face measures such as 3,500 police officers -- uniformed and in plain clothes and more than double last year’s amount, according to The Associated Press. Also, bomb-sniffing dogs, more surveillance cameras and increased barriers separating runners from spectators.
A joint terrorism task force under supervision of the FBI will be involved in safety and security operations.
A goal is to preserve the traditional feel and character of the Boston Marathon, in its 118th running this year.
“We never forget the tragedy and the suffering that occurred last year,” said Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, in a press conference. “We also want to do our part in supporting the resilience that we all have come to know as Boston Strong. Our role at the Boston Athletic Association will be to do what we do, which is mainly putting on athletic events.”
Officials are promoting a simple slogan -- if you see something, say something.
“Our security plan has been informed by what happened last year, and our collective evaluation of what worked well, what could have worked better and the lessons we learned,” said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Runners won’t be allowed to wear backpacks, though fanny packs and fuel belts are OK.
Spectators are asked to abide by common-sense guidelines. They are discouraged from bringing backpacks or large coolers or wear costumes or masks.
Some areas of the course may include screening checkpoints for spectators, who are asked to carry items in clear, plastic bags. Further threat assessments and intelligence analysis will be conduced in the six weeks leading to race day.
“One of the lessons learned here, I think, is that the public, the spectators, the participants in this marathon are another part of the security of this marathon,” Massachusetts State Police Colonel/Superintendent Tim Alben said. “Be more vigilant, to pay attention what’s around them, who’s around them, strange things that might occur.”
There hasn’t been specific intelligence indicating threats for this year’s race, but organizers are taking precautions should one pop up.
They are confident, though, encouraging people to visit popular areas, such as Boylston Street, the road where the finish line lies and where the two bombs went off last year.