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Unprecedented safeguards in place for Sunday's NYC marathon

marathon safety

marathon safety Credit: High-ranking members of the NYPD walk along the finish line. (Charles Eckert)

The anti-terrorism operation at Sunday’s New York City Marathon will be among the largest ever carried out across the five boroughs, as authorities employ a heightened strategy in response to the Boston Marathon bombings, officials said.

Federal authorities and police are bolstering security to an unprecedented level for the event and working closely with U.S. intelligence agencies to sniff out any plots, according to a city police official and a federal law enforcement source in New York with knowledge of the security measures.

The sources described details of the security plan on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss them publicly. City and federal officials also declined to discuss security arrangements.

“Boston made us take a hard look at the way we secure these kinds of events,” the federal law enforcement source said. “Nothing’s being taken for granted in terms of security or threat assessment.”

New elements of the plan include more bomb-sniffing dogs on patrol, high-tech explosives detection equipment, police boats and divers on city waterways, intensive video surveillance and the presence of thousands of additional private security workers, police officers and plainclothes law enforcement agents.

Spectators who want to cheer at the marathon finish line will be screened for weapons and explosives. Any bag carried within blocks of the race course will be searched. Authorities say the two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15 — which killed three people and injured more than 260 — have transformed security procedures at major events across the country.

“It will be tight,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said of security near the finish line. “It always is tight, but obviously we’re going to pay particular attention to that this year.”

Three private security firms were added by the New York City Road Runners Club, which operates the marathon, as well as extra K-9 and helicopter units. There will also be a separate marathon communications center in Central Park, officials said. “We’ve worked very hard on this,” said New York Road Runners executive vice president Peter Ciaccia. “We’re totally prepared.”

The marathon will spend about $1 million on security, double its normal spending, race officials said.

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