With the 122nd Boston Marathon less than two weeks away, public safety officials from local, state and federal organizations outlined security measures for the event on Tuesday.
It’s been five years since the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, an event Boston FBI Special Agent Harold Shaw noted that the city, and the world, will never forget.
Security efforts have become stronger since 2013, Shaw said. Though officials noted that since 2013 security measures at the marathon have been heightened, and there are no specific threats to this year’s race, there will still be a strong security presence leading up to and on April 16.
There will be about 8,000 public safety personnel deployed across all eight cities and towns that the marathon cuts through, of which nearly 5,000 will be uniformed and plain clothes law enforcement officers.
Local, state and federal organizations are involved, including Boston police, transit police, 150 FBI personnel, the National Guard, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and more.
These officials have been planning marathon security measures for the past six months. The safety plan includes three main goals, officials said: to provide a safe and secure environment through appropriate security measures, to ensure that the marathon remains a family-friendly event and to enable coordination and communication across the eight regions, the dozens of supporting agencies and the Boston Athletic Association.
“We are doing everything we can to encourage people of all ages to come out on marathon day, along the 26 miles to view the race, cheer the runners and celebrate Patriots Day,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Kurt Schwartz at a news conference.
Officials are asking for the public to help in safety efforts, as well. Spectators are not allowed to bring backpacks, over-the-shoulder bags, roller backs or coolers, officials said. Instead, spectators are asked to bring their possessions in clear plastic bags; all bags will also be subject to search at security checkpoints at viewing areas along the 26.2-mile route.
Glass bottles, cans and any container than can hold more than 1 liter of liquid are prohibited, as are large blankets, costumes that cover the face, any weapons or any item that might be used as a weapon, including sticks, polls, signs and props.
Officials are also asking the public to make the course a “no-drone zone” above both the runners and the spectator areas.
There will be three tethered drones (two in Hopkinton and one in Natick) at a height of around 400 feet that will provide live feeds to emergency operation centers as part of the security effort.
“We ask you to be our partners in ensuring safety and security,” Schwartz said. “Please be aware and remain aware of your surroundings. If you see something suspicious, something out of place, please report it immediately to the nearest public safety officer or call 911. Our message is simple: If you see something, say something so that our public safety team can do something.”
Both Huntington Avenue and Newbury Street will be closed to vehicle traffic on race day, said William Ridge, superintendent of Boston Police. Main streets near Kenmore Square and throughout Back Bay will also be closed until around 5:30 p.m., so Ridge encouraged anyone heading to work in that area to plan accordingly.
Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green also noted that there is no known threat against the MBTA at this time, “but we cannot become complacent,” he said.
Boston Athletic Association Executive Director Tom Grilk thanked the safety officers involved and said that they set a standard to which others around the world "can only aspire."
“They are ready to prevent things from happening,” he said. “No matter what. No matter how unimaginably horrible it may be. Their performance resonates around the world.”