NYPD beefs up security at the 9/11 and Central Park runs

Policemen stand guard at the beginning of the 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk. Security was tight for the race, as has been the case in large scale events around the country since the Boston Marathon bombings. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images.
Policemen stand guard at the beginning of the 9/11 Memorial 5K Run/Walk. Security was tight for the race, as has been the case in large scale events around the country since the Boston Marathon bombings. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images.

The NYPD spared no precaution at the city’s Sunday runs, in the wake of two horrific bombings near the finish line of last week’s Boston Marathon.

An NYPD spokesperson described the myriad security measures taken, involving personnel from nearly every unit in the force.

Any cars parked in the vicinity of the 9/11 Memorial Run and Walk, from Pier 57 to the World Trade Center, were relocated, and checked for explosives as a precaution.

Radiation sweeps were conducted prior to the event all along the route, and the bomb squad conducted specific sweeps at Pier 57.

Explosive and vapor-wake dogs with the K-9 unit were deployed inside the pier and along the route as well, and all trash cans along the route were removed.

One of the bombs at the Boston Marathon was thought to have been placed in a trash can.

Runners were also flanked by security on either side: NYPD scooter officers sped along the bike path parallel to the runners, and critical response vehicles were deployed on the West Side Highway, on the opposite side of the runners’ route.

A counter-terror video car was also deployed along the way on the West Side Highway, to capture 360-degree video.

Culling through video footage collected from runners and spectators was one of the ways the Boston Police Department and others in the Joint Terrorism Task Force were able to locate the suspects, and eventually provide photos of them to the public.

All of the same precautions were taken at the four-mile Central Park run.

According to some runners, however, the added security didn’t dampen the mood.

“It wasn’t overwhelming by any means,” said one Central Park runner, Leah. “It was reassuring.”

Leah said the only major thing she noticed that seemed out of the ordinary compared to other runs she’s done was a security checkpoint at the start of the race.

Otherwise, the police had a “visible presence,” but “it didn’t change the mood of the race.”

“It didn’t make it somber, it was still a very lively, uplifting event,” Leah explained.

Besides, Leah noted, the majority of the runners seemed to have anticipated the security.

“Unfortunately in this day and age, that’s the reality we live in,” she added.

Michele Richinick, a runner at the 9/11 Memorial Run said she didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary either, besides a bag search at Pier 57.

Cassie Leventhal, a runner in the Central Park race whose family is from Boston, noticed the absence of trash cans along the course and said there were “maybe a little more police than usual, but nothing out of the ordinary where it’s like, ‘oh, you’re all standing guard on horses.’”

Leventhal also noted that in the past it’s been customary for plastic bags to be required at “more high-caliber, high-media” races like the New York Half-Marathon and the New York Marathon.

Leah said that she and her friends originally signed up for the run on a whim, thinking it would be a nice thing to do in early spring.

But of course it became more than that.

“It became about showing solidarity for Boston, which was awesome to partake in,” she said.

Leventhal also appreciated the measures taken to show support, especially the announcement by the New York Road Runners on Thursday that everyone that weekend would get back bibs reading “I Run for Boston.”

“Who do you run for and why has been their whole campaign,” Leventhal explained. “It was really nice, coming from the Boston area my whole life, but also growing up in New York, too, it was a really nice joint collaboration.”

The organizers of the Central Park run also played “Sweet Caroline” at the start of the race, which Leventhal said was an “awesome” way to kick off the run.

Leventhal noted that the young woman who sang the national anthem prior to the run in Central Park was from Hopkinton, Massachusetts, where the Boston Marathon always starts.

“She started crying in the middle of it and that just made me bawl hysterically,” Leventhal said.

Londoners rallies for Boston, tightens security as well

Englishman Samuel Bond, who ran the London Marathon in a rhinoceros costume for Save the Rhinos, said he wore a black ribbon for Boston, as most London runners did.

“We had a minute of silence at the start too, was pretty moving,” Bond said. “Felt more important running today.”

Bond said he didn’t notice security being heavier than usual, but he did hear a lot of loudspeaker announcements about reporting suspicious packages and bags.

Bond finished in just under six hours, 20-pound rhino costume and all.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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