The two bombs that went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, killing three and injuring more than 260 people, changed the way major outdoor events are held in the U.S. As the 2014 running of the Boston Marathon inches closer, organizers stress new security protocols that will make the race a safer experience for all.
Organizers must plan for record crowds
The 26.2-mile route, which begins in the suburbs of Hopkinton, Mass., and ends in central Boston, will be subject to extensive security. While many of the added safeguards are a reaction to last year’s attack, the record crowds expected to attend the race this spring necessitate greater crowd control.
According to The Boston Globe, hotel rooms around the city are selling out at a rapid pace. Not only are there more runners participating in 2014 – approximately 9,000 more than last year – but an influx of press crews, security workers and supportive spectators is driving up demand. Attendance is expected to exceed 1 million people, which is more than double the average crowd size.
Law enforcement comes together to provide safety
To prepare for the massive number of locals and visitors planning to attend the 2014 marathon, law enforcement agencies are enhancing public safety training for the event. The Boston Globe noted that many of the new efforts are already in effect. Police officers practicing hidden bomb detection now benefit from more bomb-sniffing dogs, security cameras, undercover officers and even military support from The National Guard. Towns along the marathon route will extend road closures to help authorities properly survey scenes before and after the race.
The planning process brings together police and fire departments, emergency medical workers and officials representing all levels of governments for dozens of strategic meetings. According to The Boston Globe, these groups are also planning ways to communicate with area hospitals and emergency workers for a smooth crisis response.
Runner’s World reported that many major races changed security practices in response to the Boston bombings. Some of the alterations are relatively low-cost, such as requiring runners to check their gear into clear bags. Using air support, installing additional security cameras and increasing the number of officers patrolling an event are all expensive adjustments to make.
Add security without hurting the spirit
Organizers do not want the heightened security to dampen the spirit of the event. Officials are wary of implementing too many measures that could drive visitors away or be too difficult to support. Preserving the family atmosphere of the Boston Marathon means balancing the need for safety with efficient and noninvasive practices.
“We cannot have a thousand armed military personnel come into Hopkinton and pull out AK-47s,” Brian Herr, a government official for the town and marathon runner, told The Boston Globe. “We can’t create a military zone.”
Security plans are already more involved and intense than years past. Whether texting tips to the police or complying with searches, visitors will be expected to do their part to ensure safety, allowing the marathon’s traditions and atmosphere to endure.
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