Boston Bombings reaction

Indy safety chief: more security likely at events

2013-04-16T18:30:00Z 2013-04-16T21:43:33Z Indy safety chief: more security likely at eventsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 16, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Officials said Tuesday that police and other security workers at upcoming events like the Indianapolis 500 may have a heightened state of awareness following the explosions at the Boston Marathon, but odds are spectators won't notice any difference.

Indianapolis' public safety director Troy Riggs said that most of the added security at the May 4 500 Mini-Marathon, which draws tens of thousands of racers and spectators, will be behind the scenes. The only thing different people may notice is additional sweeps by police dogs, he said.

Riggs said officials were meeting Tuesday with representatives for the Komen Race for the Cure to discuss security at this weekend's event, which is expected to attract more than 20,000 participants.

Officials will review what happened at Boston and make adjustments to their plans for Indianapolis if needed, he said.

Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokesman John Erickson said the agency has been in touch with organizers of some of the larger scale upcoming events, such as Thunder Over Louisville and the Komen Race for the Cure, both Saturday.

"We have heightened our state of alert, which means we are looking at having some additional staffing this weekend so that we would be able to even more quickly respond if we needed to, Erickson said.

Officials at various levels held meetings Tuesday to plan what to do if a major event in Indianapolis was targeted for violence. Some of the meetings were already scheduled; others were called in light of the weekend explosions.

There were reports that Bankers Life Fieldhouse would move trash cans outside the arena during Indiana Pacers games and other events at the request of the Homeland Security agency as a precaution following the events in Boston, but Fieldhouse officials couldn't be reached for confirmation Tuesday. Erickson said any such step would be a local decision.

"It's really up to the local agency of jurisdiction to make those decisions and make those requests," Erickson said.

That doesn't necessarily follow for the Indy 500, however; state police Sgt. Brian Olehy said during a news conference that officers will conduct frequent security sweeps of garbage cans at the track during the May 26 race but don't plan to remove them because doing so would pose a health hazard.

"There's already heightened security at the events," Olehy said. "I think that every person that is here and works in some facet of public safety, they're always on high alert," he added.

Speedway spokesman Doug Boles said about 60 people met Tuesday to discuss how to respond to an incident like the Boston bombings. He said the exercise, which included public safety officials and representatives from hospitals and the National Weather Service, was one of dozens of public safety meetings held during the months leading up to events at the track each year. The exercise included public safety officials and representatives from hospitals and the National Weather Service.

Another exercise took place at Brownsburg, where the Indiana Department of Homeland Security said more than 30 first responders took part in an exercise training on how to react to an explosion like the one in Boston provided to firefighters, police officers and other emergency worker as part of year-round training.

Training includes preparing participants to handle the medical needs of victims of a bombing.

At least three people were killed and more than 170 injured when bombs made from pressure cookers detonated near the finish line at Monday's marathon. Many of the victims suffered amputations. Officials have not said where the bombs were placed.

Riggs said security officials will be monitoring Twitter and other social media before and during the Mini Marathon, and will use social media to get the word out to the public if anything happens. He said the FBI hasn't notified him of any threats and he doesn't anticipate any violence.

"This was the first time I was alerted to an event and a terrorist event through Twitter,' Riggs said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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