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NYC marathon returns with fewer runners, same security measures

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, seen on Wednesday in

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, seen on Wednesday in Central Park, discusses security preparations for Sunday's New York City Marathon. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, the New York City Marathon returns Sunday — down about 20,000 runners from the usual field of more than 50,000, but with the usual layered NYPD security measures.

Thousands of officers will be posted along the 26.2-mile route through the five boroughs. In a briefing Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner John Miller, head of NYPD intelligence and counterterrorism, said there have been no specific credible threats against the marathon.

"That said, we know the world is a dangerous place and there are a number of issues going on and that New York comes with its own symbolism," Miller said.

To guard against any possible incidents, Miller said a number of tactics and deployments will be used, including what he described as "hostile surveillance" teams from a number of law enforcement agencies looking for suspicious activity.

At a brief news conference held at the marathon finish line in Central Park with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and other police brass, Miller discussed a wide range of tactics being used to guard the race — 600 cameras on the route, blocker vehicles at key intersections, special vapor wake dogs to track explosives moving through a crowd, and radiation detectors.

"It is a package from a dedicated team used to securing these events," Miller said, adding that security preparations are the same as in the past, despite a reduced field of runners.

Officers from the NYPD's counterterrorism operations, Strategic Response Group and Critical Response Command, will be deployed along with regular patrol cops. The NYPD recently held a tabletop exercise in which various scenarios for potential trouble were brought up and discussed, according to Miller.

Private drones are forbidden in New York City, except in certain park areas. Miller warned that any such devices used by onlookers to photograph or record the race can be confiscated with a summons issued to owners.

Asked by a reporter if the reduced field of runners will be comparable in size to the number of cops providing security, Miller couldn’t resist a tongue-in-cheek response.

"No, each runner does not have his own individual security detail. We expect them to share, with all of other runners, all of the police officers and team members keeping this event safe," said Miller, to laughs from Shea and other officials at the briefing.

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