FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 3,500 police officers will be stationed along the Boston Marathon route this year, as special precautions are taken to ensure the safety of runners and spectators in the famous race.
Representatives from the Boston Athletic Association as well as a number of police agencies gathered for a news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham Monday. The extra precautions come one year after a pair of bombs went off near the Boylston Street finish line; killing three people and wounding dozens of others.
Kurt Schwartz, Mass. Emergency Management, said, “We think the public will not only accept, but they will expect and demand an increase in security for their own comfort so I think people will gladly welcome the uniformed police officers along the course.”
Federal prosecutors say that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev had made the bombs in pressure cookers, which they had carried into the crowd and left behind to explode. Footage of the two was caught on private security camera, and State Police Col. Timothy Alben says that they are working with businesses along the route to use their cameras to monitor for suspicious activity during the race. Additional surveillance cameras set up by law enforcement will also be in use.
“You’ll see more and more through the internet and advertisement about “text-a-tip” that is certainly one of the easy ways to do this. But then 9-1-1 on more important calls because you’ll get an immediate response,” said Col. Alben.
The physical police presence at this year’s Marathon will be much greater than in the past. Plainclothes officers will be among the 3,500 police personnel that will be patrolling all along the route. That number represents about double the amount of officers who were involved in security for last year’s Marathon.
The National Guard had been involved in securing the Marathon in the past, but this year some 400 soldiers specifically trained in police work will be there.
In addition to the increased law enforcement presence at this year’s race, there are new restrictions on what participants and spectators can bring with them.
Runners in this year’s Marathon will not be allowed to take bags with them from the starting line in Hopkinton end of the race in Boston. They may, however, bring fanny packs to store food or water.
Spectators, too, are being told not to carry backpacks, over-the-shoulder bags, or coolers, and will not be allowed to wear costumes or masks. All items should be carried in clear plastic bags.
Police are relying on spectators to be observant, urging them that if they see anything suspicious, to report it immediately to the police.