Manchester attack has Philadelphia officials focused on soft targets

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Security at soft targets in Philadelphia area. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 5 p.m. on May 23, 2017. (WPVI)

Philadelphia police are closely following the investigation into the attack that killed 22 people in Manchester.

While there were no specific threats made against Tuesday night's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies, police increased their presence at Citizens Bank Park.

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Young Phillies fan remark on Ariana Grande concert tragedy. Annie McCormick reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on May 23, 2017.

Law enforcement officials in Philadelphia say it's part of their duty to make people feel as safe as possible living in an open and free society.

"While we have no information which will lead us to believe what happened in Manchester is related to anything that might be going on here, in the short run, for example tonight's Phillies game, we will certainly be increasing our efforts and deployments and strategies in that regard," Philadelphia Police Captain Sekou Kinebrew said.

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Philadelphia keep close eye on Manchester attack. Walter Perez reports during Action News at 4 p.m. on May 23, 2017.

Action News also spoke with someone who knows a lot about terror hitting home.

Chief William Gross, Superintendent of the Boston Police Department, is in town for the Citizens Crime Commission Award Ceremony.

Chief Gross says the attack in Manchester revived his memories of the Boston Marathon Bombing back in 2013.

"Innocent people, visiting, enjoying an event, then cowards step in and do cowardly acts and they take lives," Gross said.

Chief Gross also says it serves as a stark reminder that issues involving the potential for domestic terrorism and violence are not going away anytime soon.

"You want the best quality of life, but unfortunately, this is a battle between good and evil. And some people are hell-bent on changing our way of life by terrorizing us," Gross said.

And that's why every law enforcement official Action News spoke with said they need the public's help.

If you're in a crowded venue or a public setting and you see something unusual or suspicious, do not hesitate to call 911.

"I'd rather have a bunch of calls coming in if there's anything that looks out of place or suspicious, we much rather have that information, let the investigators investigate, and then we'll determine if there is a problem or not," Kinebrew said.

Homeland Security officials have a list of venues that terrorists may exploit as soft targets here and around the world: concert venues, transportation hubs, hotels, shopping malls, and sports arenas.

"A soft target would be any place that people congregate, a sporting event, an entertainment event, a mall. 30th Street Station in Philadelphia actually has a little bit more security than most places," Jack Tomarchio, counterterrorism and intelligence expert, said.

Mayor Jim Kenney sends condolences to England and tells his community to keep a stiff upper lip and don't give in to fear.

"We'll just do our best to keep everybody safe. Nobody should feel they shouldn't show up at our events because of stuff like this," Kenney said.

Tomarchio, who served in the federal government's battle against the likes of ISIS and Al-Qaeda, says ever vigilance is the price we must pay.

"Anywhere in our society where people congregate, a high school football game on a Saturday afternoon or on a Friday night in the suburbs or in South Jersey, is a target and that represents an appealing target for a very determined terrorist," Tomarchio said.
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