Boston Marathon bombing has races rethinking security


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

File photo
File photo

Following the Boston bombing, races, such as the ING New York City Marathon, which takes place throughout the five boroughs, are rethinking how they can protect participants and spectators.

Now that surviving Boston bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev has been captured and charged with using a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, some of the motivations behind the attack are becoming clearer.

Other questions about security and how to prevent future attacks at similar events are under heated debate.

“Thinking about the football season starting or baseball, I don’t think [security is] going to change dramatically,” said David Kearn, an assistant professor in government and politics at St. John’s University.

Sporting venues such as Citi Field and the National Tennis Center are contained locations, he added.

“If you have to go through doors, you can have metal detectors, you can have people doing pat downs, you can have different types of devices to make sure that people aren’t bringing in things that you don’t want them bringing in,” Kearn said.

But he added that an event like the Boston Marathon has large areas that are “virtually unprotected.”

Security measure that Kearn said officials could use in areas where people congregate include mandatory check points.

The JFK 5k Runway Run, an annual race at John F. Kennedy International Airport, already uses similar security measures.

Runners and spectators must pass through security in accordance with the airport’s standards, said Rudy Auslander of the JFK Rotary Club, the event’s sponsor.

He said while they do not have to remove their shoes, all entrants are screened. Buses take runners out to the runway, and spectators are kept in an area near the line where the race both starts and finishes.

Other races in the city are designed differently, with spectators throughout the route, making similar security measures difficult.

The New York Road Runners (NYRR), who organize races including the ING NYC Marathon throughout the year, implemented enhanced baggage security following the Boston attack.

Runners who want to check their bags at one of the races must place them in a clear plastic bag and leave them in a designated zone that participants cannot enter. NYRR also has the right to search any bag in or outside the baggage area at any time, and an unattended bag can be confiscated.

“The safety and security of all New York Road Runners’ races is and will always be our top priority,” the group said in a statement. “A number of significant measures have been put in place in recent years, and we will work closely with the NYPD over the coming days and weeks to further evaluate security at races. We will continue to work hand in hand with the City of New York and the NYPD as we plan for all upcoming events.”

Kearn said these security measures would “draw more resources and more man power. You might be able to have volunteers do some of that stuff in terms of just checking bags, but you will have to have more folks checking and looking around in the future.”

 

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