SALEM (CBS) – The whole month of October in Salem is meant to be pure fun. The city’s Halloween celebrations are an international attraction and the party lasts for weeks.
But after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, keeping big crowds here safe takes on a new importance. It’s a topic that’s been an increasingly big focus for event planners and public safety officials since April.
There is “definitely an enhanced security presence and an enhanced awareness regarding security and safety” this year, according to Kate Fox, the executive director of Destination Salem.
“I know the police are working very hard,” Fox says. “They’re pulling in extra resources from different communities, different agencies, and everybody will be focused on public safety on Halloween night.”
A state police helicopter will hover overhead Halloween night, sending live pictures to the laptops and iPads of local police.
Portable surveillance cameras will also be placed strategically downtown, in an attempt to capture everything.
“Learning from what happened at the marathon, and how other officials run their open-area events, we’ve taken some of the highlights and we’re going to be implementing some of those ideas, too,” explains Lt. Conrad Prosniewski of the Salem Police Department.
If faces hidden by masks and costumes are a potential advantage for troublemakers on Halloween, the police say they can hide too.
“In other words there’s going to be a lot of police officers who will be working out of uniform, working in the crowd,” says Prosniewski.
This year more than ever, public safety officials want visitors to pay attention to all the frantic activity going around them, and report anything they think is suspicious.
They can share that info with Salem police on cellphones, thanks to a brand new text-message tip line just for Halloween.
Visitors can text 67283, followed by the password Salem1031, and share anything they see.
“Everybody has the Boston Marathon on their minds and of course the police department does too,” Prosniewski says. “I don’t think there’s a police officer in the police department that when that went off didn’t think that this could happen in Salem. This is an open event.”
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