Bombings bring security boost to Southland races
BY MIKE NOLAN and casey toner email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org April 16, 2013 11:02PM
The Homewood-Flossmoor Running Club meets in downtown Flossmoor for a memorial run in honor of the Boston Marathon tragedy Tuesday, April 16, 2013. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 18, 2013 6:42AM
Organizers of running events in the Southland said they’ll review and tighten their security plans in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Police agencies that provide traffic control and security to the upcoming First Midwest Half-Marathon in Palos Heights, which is expected to draw 2,000 runners, will have additional emergency procedures in place, Ald. Jeff Prestinario (1st) said.
He said there was no consideration given to canceling the May 5 event, now in its sixth year.
“We have to stand up and be prepared,” Prestinario said. “We are not going to allow terrorism to take our freedom away.”
He said police and fire departments have been asked to develop special emergency plans for the event, but he declined to give specifics about those plans.
Deputy Police Chief Dave Delaney said all the departments involved in assisting with the race have been told to increase their security presence in light of the bombings.
“If anybody wanted do something, and we hope they wouldn’t, there’s no reason to believe we would be a target, but we have to take it that way and do what we can,” Delaney said.
Palos Park Police Chief Joe Miller said security is “always a concern” at any large public event but particularly now because of the Boston incidents.
Memorial Day will mark the 36th annual Ridge Run in Chicago’s Beverly community, and organizers are approaching the event in a different light.
“We are certainly mindful of security every year and even more so now,” Matt Walsh, executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association, said. “How could we not be? We’ve always worked closely with the Chicago police and will be talking with them to see how to make it safer.”
Reviewing concert security
Although they meet regularly with security staff at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, Tinley Park police will again discuss procedures prior to this season’s start on May 11.
“We will discuss if we need to make any changes in light of Boston,” Police Chief Steve Neubauer said Tuesday.
In Country Club Hills, city officials are studying security for the village’s outdoor theater, Mayor Dwight Welch said.
With the Boston bombs having been placed inside garbage cans near the finish line, such containers will be searched regularly, Welch said.
The 2,500-seat theater will host between 12 and 24 acts this season, which starts in June.
Neubauer said “all the venues are going to have their antenna up” because of what happened in Boston, but he said a music theater and marathon route present two different security scenarios. A stadium or amphitheater is a “little more controlled” environment compared with a marathon route, he said.
While a stadium has a limited number of access points that can be monitored and security personnel can restrict what is brought in, such as bags and backpacks, the same can’t be said for miles of open, public streets, Neubauer said.
Contributing: Susan DeMar Lafferty