Inside the bunker: Keeping the 121st Boston Marathon safe

More than 75 local, state, and federal agencies participating

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The Boston Marathon isn’t just a big day for runners, it’s also a big day for law enforcement. Hundreds of public safety personnel gathered Monday at Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Framingham, to put their security plans into place.

“We have two tethered drones, one in Athletes’ Village, once at the starting line,” MEMA director Kurt Schwartz said. “We also have hundreds of plain-clothed police officers.room.

MEMA security exercise ahead of Boston Marathon

Dozens of local, state, and federal agencies have kept a close watch over the 121st Boston Marathon on Monday. Hours before the runners even hit the ground in Hopkinton, more than 200 public safety personnel were already 30 feet underground at the MEMA bunker.

Inside the bunker is the multi-agency coordination center. Public safety personnel here use everything from drone video to surveillance cameras on buildings to monitor any threats, and then communicate with officers above ground.

“We are plugged into the intelligence agencies. We’re plugged into the State Police Air Wing that’s watching from above. We’re monitoring all the various computer systems and networks,” Schwartz said.

Once they are plugged into all of the networks, they have three jobs: monitor threats, coordinate responses, and communicate those responses to the more than 70 agencies working to keep the Marathon safe.

“The purpose of that is to monitor conditions along the route, provide what we call a ‘situational awareness,’ so that all partners, all the state and federal agencies that are involved with the Marathon, know what’s going on and are all operating under the same information,” Chris Besse of MEMA said.

It is a security response that they say is critical to making sure what happened at the Boston Marathon in 2013 never happens again.