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Apr 17

Event Security

Posted by: Vicki Thomas in DRJ Blogs

Tagged in: Boston Marathon

Vicki Thomas

The two bombs that exploded during Monday's Boston Marathon have left many people asking "How could this have happened?" and "What could have been done to prevent such attacks?". These thoughts and questions are being heard on the radio, television, websites, and social media - essentially most people are stunned and in shock over the two explosions that killed three people and left countless others injured.

In parellel with these questions of disbelief and shock there is also a large group of people who are not as surprised or shocked. These are people who are involved in event security, event planning, disaster management, and law enforcement. That's right the very planners and organizers of such large events as the Boston Marathon, the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving Day parades - essentially any other outdoor "insecure" event - has thought about, planned for, considered and worried about an attack such as the one that occurred on Monday.

Some folks and pundits are wondering why there wasn't tighter security at the Boston Marathon and at similar events... Well, when taking a closer look, there was a large security presence in Boston leading up to and during the marathon. Police were onsite, there were random security check points with some people reporting their bags and vehicles were searched. On the flipside there are others who claim to have not seen any police or security officers during the marathon. 

It needs to be made clear that the security at Monday's Boston Marathon and at other similar events through-out North America is much tighter than it was pre-9/11. 

The lingering question that remains is this: how far should security measures go at public outdoor events and events such as the Super Bowl? Should the security perimeter be widened around the entire event - hard to do when a marathon covers a rambling 26.2 miles in a city's core. Should backpacks be banned at all marathons, bike races, concerts, hockey games, football games and baseball games? Should garbage cans be removed from the streets?

These questions and many more will need to be considered and answered. Lest some people believe that event planners and organizers have a lax approach to event-day security - keep in mind that event officials carefully plan for the fast removal of runners from the finish line - that there are strategies in place to prevent runners from lingering at the finish line for very long. There is a reason the meeting point for families is not at the finish line. There is a reason there are security personnel and barriers lining the last few kilometers of every marathon and other public event. 

So what do we do? We continue to be participants, supporters, organizers, fans, and planners. Yes, there will be tighter security at future public events. Yes, you may need to leave your backpack at home. Yes, it might be hard to find a garbage can in which to dispose of your pop can. We can and must learn from this attack at the Boston Marathon - this is the only rational reaction.