Chicago Marathon Security to Include Bomb-Sniffing Dogs, Bag Checks

By Josh McGhee and Ted Cox  on October 7, 2013 2:29pm

 The pack of runners race in last year's Chicago Marathon. This year, new security measures are in place.
The pack of runners race in last year's Chicago Marathon. This year, new security measures are in place.
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Bank of America Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO— Those attending the Chicago Marathon this weekend will face beefed-up security in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in April.

Police announced some of the marathon security strategies Monday, some of which were implemented at the Chicago Blackhawks victory rally. Officers will be checking backpacks, and bomb-sniffing dogs will be on hand.

"The Blackhawks rally came right on the heels of the Boston Marathon and as a result we took some lessons learned in Boston," Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said. "The real lessons are what do we do about backpacks and do we have enough bomb-sniffing dogs."

McCarthy said crowds were very compliant with backpack searches at the rally, but the department will also deploy other tactics to keep everyone safe. Runners in the marathon will not be allowed to carry backpacks this year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday the city had updated its security procedures since the Boston Marathon bombing and added that he was unconcerned, citing other Grant Park events.

"Since Boston, we have had Lollapalooza," Emanuel said. "We have had Taste of Chicago. We have had a number of events in that same area. And they have all come off where people could enjoy themselves."

For runners, marathon spokesman Jeremy Borling said participants will be able to use CamelBaks that contain water, but they will be searched by security personnel.

"The covert things you won't see are the undercovers that are going to be in the crowd," said McCarthy. "We will have a strong uniform and undercover presence along the route in the crowd because it’s an awful big route to police."

He said they will also use cameras to monitor the route and extra fencing has been added to Grant Park.

"We’re looking at areas of Grant Park where the largest crowds are going to be; that’s why were taking such precautions there. That’s unfortunately a step we have to take in this environment," McCarthy said.

Emanuel also spoke of security cameras being augmented through the city and especially downtown, but added that only benefited spectators for what remains a world-class event in which elite runners are drawn by the flat course and the generally cool temperatures that make for fast marathon times.

"So people can enjoy the Chicago Marathon in a safe way, a secure way, and also see some world records being set," Emanuel said.

Emanuel called the marathon "an economic boom to the city well north of $200 million."

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