In wake of Boston bombings, Salt Lake Marathon to feature more security, visibility
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Four separate bomb squads, the FBI and increased surveillance are part of the security force that will be in place as thousands of runners and spectators turn out for the Salt Lake City Marathon Saturday.
"Safety and security are always the number one concern for a race director and the marathon," said Steve Bingham, Salt Lake Marathon race director.
Following the two explosions that killed three people and injured more than 140 people near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, public safety officers and the Salt Lake Marathon director met together to discuss increased security for Saturday's marathon in Salt Lake.
The FBI has brought in the help of the Joint Terrorist Task Force, said Mike Hensle, supervisor for the Utah division of the FBI. Despite increased security, authorities do not expect any threat to participants.
"There are no credible threats related to the marathon, but we anticipate, I would hope we anticipate, a smooth marathon," Hensle said.
Bingham has been preparing for race security for months but increased efforts following the explosion of two bombs at the finish line in Boston.
He said he has briefed his 700 volunteers on how to identify suspicious people and situations. He anticipates there will be 7,000 participants in tomorrow's race, which kicks off at 7 a.m., and he encouraged the public to come out and support runners.
"The basic message is get your butts down there to the finish line," Bingham said.
To ensure the runners and public are safe, officers are increasing their vigilance, reviewing safety policies and evaluating evacuation procedures, Lt. Justin Hoyal, incident commander of the Unified Police Department, said.
The public will play a vital role in the safety of runners and spectators, Hoyal said. He encourage them to say something if they see something.
"We would rather come out and check and have it be nothing," Hoyal said. "It's better to be safe."
Members of the 85th Civilian Support Team will conduct air and security tests before the marathon and will monitor conditions during the race. The group is a division of hazmat technicians hailing from the Army and Air Force that specializes in detecting and responding to bombs, weapons and hazardous materials. The team will also provide a mobile laboratory on site at the marathon so that any suspicious chemicals can be tested in a close location.
Members of the Salt Lake City Emergency Management team will be on call to provide equipment and resources in the event of an emergency. Academi, an intelligence support company, will identify and report suspicious activities or individuals to police before and during the marathon.
Officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department, Unified Police Department and South Salt Lake Police Department will be stationed at every major intersection on the course.
South Salt Lake Police Sgt. Gary Keller said spectators should be aware that with increased security, they may be stopped by an officer. He encouraged them to be cooperative and work with the officer.
The Salt Lake Information Center will have cameras on the course that will follow racers and will receive tips from both the public and dispatch that they will then communicate to the officers on duty.
The Information Center will work with Palantir, a data management center, to streamline the databases of the public safety organizations. They will use these databases to screen any suspicious people, events or locations.
Those who notice anything unusual can call the Salt Lake Police tipline at 801-799-3000, email firstname.lastname@example.org until the end of the marathon, access an online tip service at www.tipsubmit.com/webtipsstart.aspx or text 274-637 using keywords TIPSLCPD and MARATHON.
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