Philadelphia amps up security for big events in wake of Boston bombings

April 16, 2013 3:44:27 PM PDT
The city is expecting 40,000 people to be lined up for the Broad Street Run in a few weeks. Hundreds of thousands will also flock to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on the Fourth of July and over the Labor Day weekend.

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It is a security challenge that is taking on new urgency in the wake of the Boston bombings.

"We want to the city of Philadelphia to be an open environment, for everybody to have a good time. So we'll have proper resources in place to manage these events," Philadelphia Police Inspector Walt Smith said.

Whoever set off those bombs in Boston chose a high profile event with a large crowd.

The Broad Street Run fits that bill, as does the July Fourth concert and fireworks on the Parkway.

A similar sized crowd will gather for the Made in America concerts over Labor Day weekend.

They are potential targets that now present a more urgent security challenge in the wake of Boston.

"Everything is reevaluated. Our top commanders and myself get together with my superiors and we put together a plan of action," Philadelphia Police Captain Derek Kephart said.

Inspector Smith will be at the center of that planning.

He's director of the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, a clearing house for information from multiple sources.

The Real Time Crime Watch Center is part of that network.

The city has hundreds of police surveillance cameras.

In addition, this center can now access hundreds more.

They include SEPTA cameras and cameras at the airport.

They are monitored 24/7, but the staff kicked into high gear after the explosions in Boston yesterday. "We started reaching out to all of our partners, whether it's our state partners, our federal partners, the other fusion centers that are connected to Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, we're trying to gather as much information as possible," Smith said.

The main goal is to prevent a threat to the public, but this high tech gear can also help identify and quickly track down suspects.

"We have all of our critical infrastructure on the big screen, plus high crime areas we monitor daily. When we see a crime happening via our camera system, we report it to the divisional commanders and we take action," Kephart said.

There will be visibly stepped up security, but much of it won't be obvious to the public.


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