Local race organizers re-examine security after Boston blasts
Organizers of several upcoming races reviewing their emergency plans in response to the Boston Marathon explosions. Public safety officials in Indianapolis are taking a second look at how they will deal with security at the Race For the Cure and other upcoming big events in the city.
Military Park is where thousands will be this Saturday for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
Dana Curish with Komen said they're meeting with IMPD, IUPUI Police and Homeland Security to see if they need to beef up security personnel or do anything differently.
Curish said following 9-11, Komen and other event organizers put together strong emergency plans covering a range of safety issues. The biggest threat, though, has been severe weather, be it storms or excessive heat and humidity, never an explosion or act of terrorism.
While the number of people signed up is running behind last year, they're still hoping to draw up to 27,000 people.
As they go over their emergency plan, Curish said, "You can never be too careful."
Kim Jackson with the Carmel Marathon, which also takes place Saturday, said they too have been in contact with police for their event, which is expected to include 3,500 runners. She said they were also hoping to come up with some way to honor victims of the Boston Marathon.
Carmel Marathon race director Todd Oliver was three blocks from the blast after finishing the race. He said he didn't know about the bomb blast until he got back to his hotel.
"There was a lot of confusion. Not panic, but confusion and the looks on people's faces, you started to see the first people who were crying and going in the other direction," he said. "When the noise happened, there was kind of a hush and looked around and at the people it was a few minutes (before) people started talking again."
Oliver returned to Indianapolis Monday night, but was already planning for his event on Saturday.
"Our event is next weekend, so I've already been on the phone with Lt. Foster, who's our chief of events for Carmel, talking through different things. We're really comfortable with what we have up there. We have 96 police officers, 75 National Guard, a command center already in place, so we feel good about it, but it just resonates when that happens," Oliver said.
Monday night, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs urged residents not to live in fear because of what happened Monday in Boston. Riggs asked people to say something, if they see something strange that doesn't look right.
Indianapolis resident Meggie Dials and her husband, Josh, were in Boston Monday for the marathon. Meggie told Eyewitness News she staked out a spot near the finish line to watch her husband cross it.
It was the second time Josh Dials had run the Boston Marathon. He finished the race 30 minutes before tragedy struck. Had it been any later, Meggie would have been standing in between where both explosions took place.
"This is such an incredible event and such a prestigious event with really, really talented athletes and for it to end this way is tragic for all of us who are runners," said Meggie.
She said she's worried about some of the spectators she had been standing with earlier that day.
"When you spend five hours with a group of people, you get to know the people around you, so I know that they had runners that finished after my husband," she said. "My first thought was, 'I hope they're okay,' but of course, I don't know their names or their last names, their phone numbers, I have no way of getting in touch with them."
The couple was planning to fly home Monday night.
"I just want to be home in Indianapolis," Meggie said.
Indianapolis officials are waiting to learn more from the terror attack in Boston to assess what's needed here for big events in the coming months, like the 500 Festival Mini Marathon and the Indianapolis 500.
"We do know that there are no threats to the City of Indianapolis at this time," said Riggs. "That does not relieve us of our responsibility to do our due diligence to monitor everything as much as we can. I can certainly stand here and say today that we will learn something from Boston and we will make some slight changes to our plans because of that."
Changes neither the city's Public Safety Department or its Division of Homeland Security said they could elaborate on for security reasons.
"We're monitoring the situation. Is there something we can learn about the tactics that the aggressors used there in Boston and make sure that those tactics cannot be used here in Indianapolis?" Riggs said. "If there are any major changes, we'll let you know. But right know, everything will be done behind the scenes. We think that we're going to have a safe, secure event."
The chief of the city's Division of Homeland Security Gary Coons said his teams have already been preparing for the Mini and the 500.
"We shut down streets. We do sweeps with our bomb team and K-9s. We have police officers in and around the events and around the large gatherings of people and we have, you know, other agencies supporting us," explained Coons of the measures that are already in place.
500 Festival spokesperson Megan Bulla said they while they feel they have a strong plan in place, they too would be looking at everything from their command center and emergency medical operations to security and communication.
Coons said the key is to not take anything for granted.
"People are smart. The people that want to hurt us are smart and they look for any way to do it," he added.
That was something Meggie and Josh Dials learned in a place they never expected - the Boston Marathon.
"You never think that this is going to happen, but of course now its going to put us all on edge and maybe that's a good thing because we'll be more aware," said Meggie Dials.
Awareness is what safety officials here said they want to stress, knowing any event can be a target.
Monday night, Mini Marathon officials sent an email to runners registered in this year's event:
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the all victims and their families at the Boston Marathon.
As we do with all of our events, not only the Mini-Marathon, we continually plan with participant and public safety as our utmost concern. Our staff has met and will continue to meet with our Public Safety officials in preparation for this year's Mini-Marathon. The 500 Festival, a not-for profit organization, produces nearly 50 events and programs which reach more than 500,000 people each year.
Our safety and security plan is the result of years of planning and it mirrors that of the 2012 Super Bowl which was put into place prior to last year's race. ÂÂ@
No city does big events like Indianapolis and we have some the industry's best public safety officials supporting our events.
We look forward to seeing you at this year's OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Finish Line 500 Festival 5K on May 4.