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Mass. beefing up security in wake of general security threats

Logan International Airport, pictured above, is among the locations where state officNicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

Massachusetts public safety agencies are beefing up security at public buildings and locations around the state, including Logan Airport, as a response to recent violence both domestic and abroad, including the attack last week in Ottawa at Canada's capitol.

The United States Department of Homeland Security, which on Tuesday ordered enhanced security at federal buildings in Washington D.C. and around the country, has briefed public safety officials and Gov. Deval Patrick in Massachusetts on efforts underway to enhance public safety.

"While there are no specific, credible threats to homeland security in Massachusetts, we take any possibility of threats to public safety very seriously. Given recent events here and abroad, public safety agencies are increasing our vigilance in ways that will be both visible and invisible to the public," said Terrel Harris, spokesman for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, in a statement Wednesday morning.

More than 18 months have passed since two Chechen brothers allegedly carried out a bombing attack on the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three at the finish line and a fourth person, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, in a subsequent shootout with authorities. Hundreds more suffered grievous wounds.

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For security reasons, Harris said, the Patrick administration cannot detail precise steps to be taken, but he noted that the public may witness random screenings, increased patrols and a greater uniformed security presence at various locations, including Boston's Logan International Airport.

"We ask for your patience and understanding with any related inconvenience. Our state, local and federal partners in law enforcement continue to be in close contact to ensure coordination of these measures," Harris said.

At the State House, uniformed State Police troopers have taken up posts at the entrances to the building alongside the Department of Conservation and Recreation rangers who typically provide security at the capitol.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday ordered increased security at more than 9,500 federal facilities that have 1.4 million visitors and workers passing through on a daily basis.

"We are taking this action as a precautionary step, to safeguard U.S. government personnel and facilities, and the visitors to those facilities," Johnson said in a statement. "The reasons for this action are self-evident: the continued public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on the homeland and elsewhere, including against law enforcement and other government officials, and the act of violence targeted at government personnel and installations in Canada and elsewhere recently."

Johnson urged state and local governments to be vigilant, particularly against potential "small-scale attacks by a lone offender or a small group of individuals."

Last Wednesday, a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier before entering the parliament building where he was killed in a shootout.

Patrick on Monday said he spoke to the premier of Ontario after the attack, and was confident that Massachusetts was "as prepared as we can be."

"I get a regular classified briefing from the Joint Terrorism Task Force. I'm aware of what the traffic is, and I'm aware of the steps that law enforcement takes or has taken in the past," Patrick told reporters. "There isn't any specific threat that we are dealing with."

 
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