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Boston Marathon security low-key but tight

Double amputee Celeste Corcoran, center, a victim of

Double amputee Celeste Corcoran, center, a victim of the bombings, reaches the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Boston, with the aid her sister Carmen Acabbo, left, and daughter Sydney, right, who was also wounded last year. Credit: AP / Elise Amendola

          An Editor’s Note published July 12, 2017, about Kevin Deutsch’s reporting appears at the end of this story.

BOSTON -- They were hoping for a peaceful race, and they got one.

Under sunny skies, spectators packed the course for Monday's Boston Marathon, which went off without a hitch in a city still in recovery mode after last year's deadly bombings.

Less visible was a new multipronged security apparatus involving federal, state and local law enforcement that kept spectators and competitors safe and is likely to serve as a model for other "soft footprint" security operations at large-scale gatherings in New York and nationwide, officials said.

"We . . . don't want to have it, you know, kind of a race through a militarized zone," said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick during a discussion before the race about enhanced security measures after last year's bombings. "So it's about striking a balance, and I think we have struck that balance."

Monday's anti-terrorism operation was drafted in the days and months following the twin bombings near the finish line that killed Martin Richard, 8, Krystle Campbell, 29, and Lingzi Lu, 23 and injured 264. MIT police officer Sean Collier, 27, died several days later during the manhunt for Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston-area brothers suspected of the bombings and Collier's killing. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is awaiting trial on multiple charges.

The security plan opted for a strategy where some signs of an increased presence wouldn't be apparent -- but would still thwart anyone intent on doing harm.

The FBI, Boston and state police, along with other law enforcement agencies, dispatched hundreds of plainclothes cops and agents to walk the marathon route; mounted dozens of security cameras; used radiation wands and detectors; put snipers on standby; and meticulously checked bags and backpacks like the ones used to conceal the pressure cooker bombs that detonated at last year's race.

Other new security measures included increased aerial surveillance, explosive-proof trash cans, and additional bomb- sniffing dogs, authorities said.

About 3,500 law enforcement officers were assigned to the race. At 6 a.m. more than 100 National Guard soldiers walked the race route in a show of force aimed at deterring potential attacks.

Officials said local and federal authorities spent months preparing the unprecedented security operation, drawing on lessons from other large events, including last year's New York City Marathon and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

After coming under scrutiny for not passing along intelligence about the Tsarnaev brothers, the FBI worked closely with Boston police, sharing all relevant chatter and leads concerning possible security concerns, officials said.

"There was unprecedented cooperation this year," said a federal law enforcement official. "Everything we knew" local law enforcement knew. . . . "The national security leadership is very happy with the way today's race turned out. For the marathon to go off without incident is a validation of our plans."

"Soft footprint," which refers to the relatively low-key but still all-encompassing security measures used Monday, is likely to serve as a template for events across the country, the law enforcement official said.

Runners and race spectators said they were pleased with marathon security because there was a feeling of safety, but not intrusion.

"I felt totally at ease, because it was secure without being a police state," said Marge Culver, 46, of Boston, as she cheered on several relatives running the marathon. "They could have overwhelmed us with uniforms, but they didn't and still kept us safe."

Marathoner Jackie Bates, a Manhattan resident who works in Garden City, commented, "By taking back the finish line this year we beat those who wish us harm. This year's not about hate, only love."

Editor’s note: Newsday undertook an extensive, four-month review of reporting by Kevin Deutsch, who covered law enforcement from April 2012 to September 2016.

The review of the former Newsday reporter’s work began after The Baltimore Sun this year reported that law enforcement and other officials questioned the veracity of Deutsch’s nonfiction book “Pill City” about Baltimore’s drug trade. In addition, questions arose about individuals named in Newsday stories by Deutsch. Book publisher St. Martin’s Press and Deutsch have said they stand behind the book.

We are dedicated to accurate, factual reporting, to the highest journalistic standards and to maintaining our credibility with Newsday readers. We also are committed to being accountable to our readers. Newsday undertook the detailed review in that spirit and because of the concerns that were raised.

In late February, as our review was under way, The New York Times reported in an editor’s note that The Times “had been unable to locate or confirm the existence of two people who were named and quoted” in a Dec. 29, 2016, freelance article written by Deutsch. Deutsch “maintains that the interviews and the descriptions are accurate,” The Times wrote.

Newsday reviewed 600 stories with reporting by Deutsch. We contacted officials in the police departments regularly involved in Deutsch’s coverage. They said they had not had problems with his work. We then focused our research and reporting on individuals who, as described in the stories, would not be considered officials, or well-known, public figures.

The review found 77 stories with 109 individuals from Deutsch’s reporting whom Newsday could not locate. The main points of the stories were not affected. While two stories about the Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen were based on sources Newsday could not locate, other media reported the main points of those stories but with attribution from different sources. In this story, Newsday could not locate: Marge Culver. Newsday is attaching an editor’s note to each story online that contains individuals we cannot locate.

Here’s how Newsday conducted the review:

Researchers and reporters searched local and national public records, sites providing nationwide people searches, databases of business, real estate and conviction records, social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and and nationwide news archives. They searched potential alternate spellings and other name variations. Their reporting followed potential leads they found through research, within stories and in information shared by Deutsch during the review.

Finding people after publication, in some cases years later, can be difficult because of changes in residence, circumstance and contact information. Some may not have given their real names.

On the law enforcement beat, reporters may encounter people who lead lives that are not reflected in public records or other sources of information that would help locate them. It is possible that some on our list were difficult to find or reluctant to respond to our review because they are undocumented immigrants, those battling or recovering from addiction or people involved in or around illegal activity.

Some on our list were described discussing crimes in their neighborhoods, and others as relatives, friends or neighbors of victims or as individuals living near or knowing those accused of crimes.

Others we have not been able to locate, though, are described as bystanders, neighbors, spectators, relatives of drug victims, witnesses to news events or related in some way to people in the news. Still others are described in stories as people actively engaged in public issues, such as activists, protesters and marchers. Many individuals on the list are described as local.

Deutsch said in email exchanges with Newsday that “I have no doubt about the veracity of the claims of the sources I quoted.” He also said, “Not a single public official, source, or other interviewee has raised any issues with even one of these stories.”

“It's impossible for any reporter to know whether the name given to him by interviewees on the street--or those reached briefly by phone or email-- is that person's full and legal name, rather than an alias or variation of their real name (maiden names and certain common nicknames/abbreviations for first names are often published by newspapers, including Newsday.). But every one of the names on Newsday’s list was the name given to me by that interview subject, verbatim.”

During the four months of our review, Newsday shared questions and updates with Deutsch as we progressed in the search for individuals we could not locate. We requested notes and contact information. Deutsch sent us notes he said represented all individuals we were unable to locate and responded over the course of the review by email, sharing information he said was from his recollection and notes.

Reporters followed up on all information shared by Deutsch. He did not provide contact information for those on our list. Newsday reporters and editors sought unsuccessfully several times to meet with Deutsch to discuss his reporting and to review his notes together to ensure we were not missing contact information or other details that might help locate individuals. Deutsch maintained that the notes he shared “serve as evidence of interviews” with each source.

Deutsch said he kept contact information in a Rolodex he left behind at Newsday’s main office and in a company-issued cellphone he returned within a week after resigning on Sept. 6, 2016. Editorial staff did not find a Rolodex or other notes at our office, but found notes left at Newsday’s desk at a courthouse pressroom where he worked. We shared them with Deutsch and he confirmed they were his. As per company policy, the contents of the cellphone had been deleted immediately after Deutsch returned it to Newsday.

Maintaining the trust of our readers is essential to our mission. If we are able subsequently to locate any individuals, we will update our stories.

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