Nashville authorities promise tightened security for marathon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Law enforcement authorities say they have no known threat for the St. Jude Country Music Marathon and that runners will see a strong presence of officers and security from start to finish Saturday.
Officials from the Metro Nashville Police Department, FBI, ATF, Tennessee Department of Safety and both local and federal prosecutors promised Tuesday that they have reviewed security plans for the marathon and half marathon, which draw approximately 30,000 runners. Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said they are planning for every contingency.
"While we will not detail the specifics of the entire plan, the end product involves the deployment of hundreds of law enforcement and security personnel in a strong showing that will most certainly add an important measure of assurance for the tens of thousands of runners and spectators we expect at Saturday's events," Anderson said.
The chief said police and security will be "very visible" from the start line and throughout the 26.2-mile course for the marathon and the 13.1-mile course for the half marathon to the finish line at LP Field, home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
Keith Moses, FBI special agent in charge, said they have checked with all their field offices and confirmed there are no known threats against this marathon. But he repeated the same theme as the other officials that anyone seeing something suspicious should say something immediately. Both the FBI and Nashville police have tip lines set up.
Moses, Nashville District Attorney Torry Johnson and acting U.S. Attorney David Rivera also cautioned that any threat or hoax on social media is a potential violation of the law. Johnson said anything happening on social media or at the scene will not be ignored. Rivera said hoaxes can be prosecuted along with crimes and any terrorist acts.
"This is not a time for pranks," Rivera said. "There are a lot of sensitivities involved in this event. A lot of folks are coming out, and based on the recent happenings in Boston, we need to be sensitive about these events. So it's not a time to be cavalier, and be aware that you shouldn't engage in activity that might put you in harm's way of either state or federal laws."
Security plans for the marathon have been reviewed since the bombings at the Boston Marathon last week. The Competitor Group, Inc., which runs the Nashville event, also ordered clear bags Monday for runners to store gear. Adam Zocks, vice president of the group, said marathons used the clear bags after 9-11 before getting away from that practice.
"I think this is what we'll see for the immediate future, and I think it's probably what's going to be necessary," Zocks said. "Like everything else, go back to 9-11 and the airport lines were hours and hours. You gradually find a way to do it more efficiently and effectively, so I think like everything else you'll find that balance."