What now for event security?




Posted on April 15, 2013 at 10:55 PM

SEATTLE -- Yes, the races will go on. That’s the word from organizers of the Seattle Marathon and the Rock and Roll Marathon.

In fact planners of events of all kinds say they have no plans to cancel or substantially alter their approach in light of the killings at the Boston Marathon. But they also say they’ll review security procedures and emergency response plans and make sure they’re doing everything possible protect participants, fans and workers.

Seattle Marathon Race Director Louise Long says she’ll follow the lead of the police and the Sports Events Council as she gets ready for this year’s race. Can they guarantee safety for all? Long gives a thoughtful and honest answer. “It’s unbelievable. I don’t know. It’s a very puzzling situation.”
She calls it an attack on “all of us,” and wonders aloud how anyone can protect every inch of a major race.
“26.2 miles. It’s pretty hard to protect a road, a whole roadway, a whole course,” said Long.
David Gomez, an ex-FBI agent who spent 20 years in counter-terrorism says the very things that make Seattle great also make Seattlites vulnerable to a Boston-type attack.
“One of the things I love about the city is that it has all these festivals and at every festival there’s a large crowd and at every festival there are potential victims,” said Gomez.
He says everyone needs to be more vigilant, to keep their eyes open for anything suspicious during huge events with big crowds. He also says a robust uniformed police presence, even uniformed private security guards, can be a deterrent.  
Gomez also admits there is really no simple answer, no guarantee of keeping every citizen safe if somebody with a bomb has a plan and a target and the will to carry out cold-blooded murder.
“They’re about sending a message and they’re about creating fear,” said Gomez.
He also in the Boston case he’ll be surprised if it turns out to be foreign terrorism.
“My first look would not be towards Al-Qaida affiliated groups, but more towards either left or right wing radical groups,” said Gomez.