AKRON, Ohio - Akron Marathon organizers and local police agencies will hold their first of several safety meetings on Wednesday to discuss security measures for this fall's race.
Anne Bitong, executive director of the Akron Marathon, expects additional police officers will be on hand for the marathon, half marathon and team relay events on Sept. 28.
Akron police officers, University of Akron officers, Summit County deputies, FBI agents and Homeland Security agents will be part of the security teams stationed along the blue line of the course and at the finish line inside Canal Park Stadium.
"We're assessing the additional services that we're going to need, but we haven't put a number as to what that would look like," Bitong said.
A private security company will provide an additional layer of security at the finish as well as manage the "traffic of the runners" inside the stadium.
Race directors across the country were forced to take a hard look at their security plans after two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon last April, killing three people and injuring nearly 300 others.
Prior to the tragedy in Boston, Akron Marathon officials talked about security during meetings in which several other topics were discussed. This year, security will be the sole focus of meetings held at least once a month leading up to the marathon.
The Cleveland Marathon significantly increased security in May. Many of the runners and spectators said they felt safe, but a few experienced some jitters with the Boston bombings on their minds. At one point, several officers rushed to an unattended bag that was left near the finish line. It was a false alarm.
Bitong said committee members will also review or possibly refresh a "crisis management plan", which details what race officials and police would need to do if a race has to be stopped for any reason.
Akron Police Captain Dan Zampelli said well over 100 officers are typically on hand for the marathon, but the number of safety personnel may be increased this year, or officers could be reallocated to best serve security concerns.
Zampelli said "the ballgame has changed" since Boston and it's important that people feel a sense of security, a point that will be addressed at the first meeting.
"We're actually brining in folks from the Cleveland Police Department to talk about best practices to make a safer event in light of the Boston incident," Zampelli said.
Bitong estimated that 15,000 runners will sign up for the 11th annual event, but she's preparing for more.
"We're up 20 percent from where we were at this time last year," she said.
About 100,000 spectators also line the course or wait for runners at the finish.
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