National Guard, SWAT Among Boston Marathon's Expanded Security Measures
The National Guard "expects to send armed military police officers" to the Boston Marathon "for the first time in more than a decade," according to a front-page piece by Cramer & Murphy of the BOSTON GLOBE. There also "will be significantly more bomb-sniffing dogs, undercover officers, and surveillance cameras, especially near the finish line where the throng is thickest." With two months to go before the race, state and municipal officials "are working at a feverish pace to lock in a comprehensive safety plan to secure the 26.2-mile route." At least twice as many spectators "are expected to cheer on the runners this year." Authorities said that they "have yet to determine whether they will ban coolers, backpacks, or other bulky bags along the course, and have not yet settled on a final plan for crowd management near the Boylston Street finish." Officials at the race "will erect more barriers along the route to separate the runners from the crowds." The FBI said that it "plans for the first time to deploy a SWAT team and a unit that specializes in recovering evidence from deadly crime scenes and sites of mass disaster, in addition to other specialized teams, like bomb technicians, that usually help with Marathon security." This year's field of runners "has been expanded from 27,000 to 36,000, making it second only to the centennial race" in '96 that saw 38,708 registered runners. Massachusetts Police Colonel Timothy Alben said that spectators "may not be able to get as close to the starting line as they used to," while vendors "may get more scrutiny before they can set up." State police, "for the first time at the Marathon, will be giving the public a text-a-tip line to report anything suspicious" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/9).