Detroit — The terrorist attack that marred the Boston Marathon in April weighs on the minds of local law enforcement officials as Detroit prepares for its own race this weekend.
Detroit Police are working with several law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security and Windsor Police, to guard against a repeat of the Boston tragedy during Sunday’s Detroit Free Press-Talmer Bank Marathon.
“In light of what happened in Boston with their marathon, we’re taking every precaution to make sure people will be safe,” Detroit Police Commander Renee Hall, head of the Downtown Services Section, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Police Chief James Craig said he addressed similar concerns as the police chief in Cincinnati, which held its annual Flying Pigs Marathon a month after the Boston Marathon.
“We were very much in contact with Boston, so a lot of the policies we enacted in Cincinnati will also be enacted here,” Craig said.
“What happened in Boston raises your consciousness that we’re in a terrorist-rich environment, so we take precautions,” he said. Similar measures are put into place whenever large crowds gather, including Major League Baseball games and NFL football games, the chief added.
“This is not new to Detroit,” Craig said. “It’s not an overwhelming challenge.”
About 27,000 runners are expected to participate in the race, which kicks off at 6:58 a.m. and ends at 2:02 p.m., with more than 50,000 spectators lining the streets along the route, which stretches roughly from Belle Isle to Grand Boulevard, and across the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel into Canada.
Thousands more are expected downtown for the 1 p.m. Detroit Lions game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field.
For safety reasons, Craig didn’t disclose specific strategies or deployment of police officers Sunday, but said patrols will be stepped up during the race. He also said runners will not be allowed to carry bags.
In light of the break-ins of several cars Saturday during the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk downtown, Craig reminded visitors to avoid leaving valuables in their vehicles.
“People sometimes forget and leave their iPhones and laptops in plain view,” he said. “You can’t do that anywhere, whether you’re in Detroit or the suburbs.”