As the 118th Boston Marathon’s 26.2 mile path boldly winds its way through seven towns before reaching its namesake city, approximately 36,000 runners will take center stage while about a million spectators cheer them on from the sidelines. Each runner has a specific reason why he or she wants to participate in this herculean feat; however, I’m sure a majority of them are running with pride for the city of Boston with heartfelt sentiment for those who were affected by last year’s bombing incident.
With such a vast group of people congregating in this sprawling space, officials have taken on a huge responsibility to keep everyone safe at this year’s marathon.
“This is not like securing a football stadium for a Super Bowl, where you just put a big fence around it,” said Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
So, what security strategies are being deployed to ensure a safe and security marathon?
Security Strategy #1: Bigger numbers. From last year, the sheer number of law enforcement personnel has doubled to approximately 3,500 who will be using bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and security cameras as tools to prevent criminal mischief.
Security Strategy #2: Banning items. Runners will not be permitted to wear backpacks or rucksacks as they run along the marathon’s pathway. Spectators are encouraged to not bring backpacks as they will be searched at various screening points along the course. Containers with more than 1iter of liquid, costumes covering the face and bulky clothes are also banned.
Security Strategy #3: No bandits. The organizer of the marathon, Boston Athletic Association, is asking that unregistered runners, “bandits,” who are known to swoop into the race midcourse, sit out this year.
Security Strategy #4: Communication. Because the race is spread over eight municipalities, communication systems have been installed between these areas. Resources are at the ready in the event of a disaster so that local officials can communicate with each other.
Security Strategy #5: Situational awareness. For everyone involved with the Boston Marathon, make a conscious effort to know what is going on around you at all times. Look for people exhibiting suspicious behaviors and odd objects in places they’re not usually found. Consider snapping a picture with your smartphone and immediately notifying officials.
Officials realize that it is impossible to build a foolproof security plan to eliminated risk; however, as of 4:45pm Texas time, no media outlets have reported a marathon catastrophe.