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Marathon Security To Include 3,500 Police; Backpacks Discouraged

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118th Boston Marathon

 

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (CBS/AP) — More than 3,500 police officers will patrol this year’s Boston Marathon, more than double the number deployed last year, when two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports

The enhanced police presence is part of a beefed-up security plan detailed Monday by public safety officials as they prepare for the April 21 marathon.

Watch Ed Davis On Security Plan

“There’s going to be a lot of undercover officers in the crowd,” says WBZ-TV Security Analyst Ed Davis. “There’s going to be checkpoints and the deployment of National Guard troops has been really increased.”

BAG SEARCHES

Spectators who plan to attend the marathon are being strongly discouraged from bringing backpacks, rolling bags, coolers and other large items, and are instead being asked to carry personal items in clear plastic bags. Anyone who does bring a bulky bag will be subject to search, officials said during a news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s bunker in Framingham.

The new guidelines for spectators are similar to rules for runners made public several weeks ago by the Boston Athletic Association.

Authorities said they sought to strike a balance between keeping the traditional feel and character of the marathon and tightening security in response to last year’s deadly terror attack.

EXPERIENCE ‘WILL NOT BE IMPACTED’

“We are confident that the overall experience of runners and spectators will not be impacted, and that all will enjoy a fun, festive and family-oriented day,” said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Schwartz said police are looking to spectators to be especially vigilant and report any suspicious items or activity.

Like runners, spectators are also being told they cannot bring containers with more than 1 liter of liquid and cannot wear bulky costumes or anything that covers their faces.

Unregistered runners known as “bandits” will be prohibited this year. Officials said the move was necessary because or security concerns and because organizers are expecting 9,000 additional runners this year — bringing the total field to 36,000 — and double the typical number of spectators for a crowd of up to one million.

“This course is at capacity this year and it’s just common sense” for bandits to stay off the course, Schwartz said.

Police and other public safety officials from the eight cities and towns along the marathon course have been meeting for months to come up with a plan to beef up security following last year’s deadly attack. Two brothers are suspected of building homemade pressure-cooker bombs and placing them in backpacks near the finish line.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and faces the possibility of the death penalty. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, died following a shootout with police several days after the bombing.

NO KNOWN THREATS

Kieran Ramsey, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office, said the agency has “no specific intelligence indicating there is a threat to this year’s marathon.”

“At this point, we don’t have one, nor do we anticipate it,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said the FBI and its law enforcement partners have met with officials in other cities that host large scale public events, including London and New York City.

Col. Timothy Alben, commander of the state police, said police will have more than 100 additional security cameras along the route and have also met with business owners to coordinate use of their surveillance cameras, as well. He urged spectators to report anything at all suspicious to police.

“In this world, you never eliminate risk, you never bring it down to zero … but we are working very hard at reducing that risk level and managing it to the best of our collective abilities,” he said.

AP Legal Affairs Writer Denise Lavoie contributed to this report (TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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