Expert: Preparedness key in fight against terrorism

A security expert says preparedness is important to prevent future terror attacks.
Published: .
Updated: .

The terror in Boston has public safety officials in Indiana and across the country promising to check security plans and work harder to keep people safe.

Police and other public safety agencies face an incredible challenge. How do you protect tens of thousands of people or, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, hundreds of thousands of people. Answers don't appear as easy or cheap as more police and higher fences.

More officers, more bomb sniffing dogs, and more security checkpoints alone won't be enough to prevent the terror of Boston from recurring.

"This isn't simple addition. Unfortunately, calculus is involved with preparedness," said security consultant Peter Beering.

Beering has written books on terrorism, is an internationally know security expert and oversees security for some of the city's biggest events.

"You have to ask, 'Where are you going to draw the line?'," he asked.

Drawing a security line around the entire length of a marathon or searching all the people, vehicles and coolers entering the Speedway, Beering concedes, would be next to impossible. Law enforcement's first priority, he insists, should be building relationships with other public safety agencies, collecting intelligence and sharing it.

"You gather as much as you can about who is angry. Who could be thinking about something awful like this," Beering explained.

Fences, barricades, and checkpoints control crowds, but not terrorists. He says terrorists are merely pushed further way or in another direction. Thwarting terrorists requires a flexible security line, one that twists and turns unexpectedly.

"The primary exercise here is one of keeping benevolent actors off balance. You don't want to make your security completely unpredictable," Beering said.

More effective, but more difficult and more costly.

Drawing new security lines to prevent additional acts of terror will be a significant challenge for public safety agencies whose budgets are already stretched to the breaking point.

The investigation underway in Boston may determine how much security changes at similar events across the country. After the Oklahoma City bombing, security in and surrounding Federal court and office buildings increased dramatically. The 9-11 attacks forever changed airports and the way we travel.

But will Indianapolis 500 fans face additional checks and restrictions? An Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman says it's too early to tell.

The answers and lessons from the explosions in Boston could take weeks.