Marathon Security: What You Need to Know
Heightened precautions in light of last year’s bombings
Backpacks will be banned at all venues involved in this year’s Boston Marathon. Another thing you’ll see less of: runners, as additional barricades will be in place along the entire length of the 26-mile route to give marathoners a wider berth. (This year’s race could draw 9,000 more runners than last year’s.) But you’ll see more cops, especially on bicycles, including all of BU’s two-wheel patrols.
Marathon 2014 will have significantly greater security after last year’s bombings, which injured more than 260 and killed 3, among them BU student Lu Lingzi (GRS’13). Seven members of the BU community will run in her memory, courtesy of slots her family was given by the Boston Athletic Association, organizer of the Marathon. The Lu family offered seven of the slots to the University.
Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, says 3,500 uniformed police officers will guard the route, approximately twice as many as last year. They’ll be joined by an increased number of bomb-sniffing dogs, plainclothes officers, and video surveillance cameras.
BU Police Department Captain Robert Molloy says his department’s dozen cyclist officers will join others from Boston and Brookline to form a rapid-response armada “from Cleveland Circle all the way up to the finish line” at Boylston Street. That force will be able to thread through crannies inaccessible to motor vehicles, even motorcycles, Molloy says.
“It’s going to enable a large group of police officers to be more mobile,” he says. “It’s about getting police officers to areas where there’s a high volume of people.” The officers will be able to help with duty from “rendering medical aid to moving crowds to handling disturbances.” In past years, according to Molloy, the BUPD has handled security just around the Audubon Circle area and has not deployed all its cyclists.
Spectators should know that barricades “that weren’t there last year are going to prevent people from getting close to the runners,” he says. The barricades will also prevent pedestrians from crossing from one side of the Marathon route to the other. In past years, crossing was permitted at designated intersections. Police will more strictly enforce a ban on public drinking than in the past, Molloy says. If someone needs help at one of the race’s many medical tents, the person will not be able to be accompanied by a family member or a friend; parents will be allowed in with children who need help.
Runners too face a barrage of new restrictions, including no bags at the starting line in Hopkinton—only tiny fanny packs able to accommodate a cell phone, a credit card, some medicine, and a Power Bar. The BAA will provide clear plastic bags at Boston Common the morning of the race, and runners may store items in the bags that they’ve kept in backpacks in the past.
Runners must collect their bib numbers themselves before the race rather than delegate others to pick them up. The water bottles they carry on belts during the Marathon can be no bigger than one liter, and personal hydration systems that runners have worn in the past are verboten. And where unregistered runners—so-called bandits—have been permitted in past years, the BAA warns them to stay off the course this year or face removal.
Security personnel are authorized to ban any items people may be carrying that are deemed inappropriate. In addition to backpacks, those items specifically prohibited (besides weapons of any kind, obviously) are: glass containers, handbags and over-the-shoulder bags, packages or bulky items larger than 12 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches (such as blankets and sleeping bags), strollers, suitcases and roll-on bags, coolers, flammable liquids, fireworks, any container capable of holding more than one liter of liquid, vests (except for lightweight running vests), bulky clothing and costumes covering the face, props (these include sporting/military/fire equipment and signs, and flags bigger than 11-by-17 inches), and items larger than 5-by-5 inches.13 Comments