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Law enforcement ready for action on Marathon Day
By Norman Miller and Claudia Torrens / Daily News Staff
Sunday, April 17, 2005

It's the biggest event to hit MetroWest every year, with thousands of people from around the world cramming themselves near Rte. 135 to watch Boston Marathon runners jog by.

So many people jammed into area communities will require hundreds of local and state law enforcement officials to work together to monitor the event, officials said.

"Short of a presidential visit, this is the major event," said Framingham Police Lt. Vincent Alfano. "We've been doing this for so long, we have an operational plan in place. It's a huge cooperative effort. In light of 9/11, we do take additional precautions that I can't comment on."

Not only will local police departments along the 26.2-mile Marathon route be on patrol, so will more than 400 National Guardsmen, state police officers, sheriffs and Framingham State College campus police officers. 8)

Everything will be monitored at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Rte. 9 in Framingham, spokesman Peter Judge said.

Representatives from all towns along the route will be there, as will representatives from the FBI, FAA and the Department of Public Health, Judge said.

In all, representatives from 40 agencies will be in the MEMA bunker.

"It's the biggest planned event we do every year," said Judge. "We look at it as 52 miles of potential problems, because you have people on both sides of the road."

To help monitor the event, an online emergency operations center has been created so everyone involved in security for the race, no matter where they are, is in instantaneous contact. The technology was also used during last year's Democratic National Convention in Boston.

"It's like everyone is in the same room, because everyone who has the computer and is online in the system is sharing the same information," said Judge. "It's real time. If there's a disruption in Framingham, we'll know. It could be anything from needing assistance there because the spectators have narrowed the course, to someone finding a suspicious package. It's instantaneous."

Because Rte. 135 cuts most communities in half, specific police officers, ambulances and fire vehicles are placed on either side of the Marathon route.

"We will basically have two fire departments that day," said Natick Fire Lt. Mike Slattery. "This is a world-known event. It is a key marathon, and we have to get ready for it."

In case of emergencies, Alfano said there are dedicated crossover points that emergency vehicles can use, particularly if they have to get to MetroWest Medical Center's Framingham Union campus.

Towns are bringing in extra patrols that day, as well as auxiliary police, to make sure the same level of service is offered throughout the town as on normal days.

In Hopkinton, Police Chief Tom Irvin said every officer on the staff will be working during the Marathon.

"Normally, on any given day, about 25 percent of our force is on duty," said Irvin. "On this day, 100 percent of our force is on duty, so we're able to give the same level of service that we can on any other day."

Alfano said, "We still need to take care of business as usual."

Other than the Marathon-related issues, Patriots Day is usually pretty quiet, Natick Police Lt. Steve Pagliarulo said. Not many incidents happen, he said, because most businesses are closed.

"We try to build the same plan every year," he said.

Along with the 400 guardsmen, two F-15 fighter jets will perform a flyover at the beginning of the race in Hopkinton and follow the race route straight into Boston.

Also, 40 guardsmen and family members are running in the race.

Ashland Police Lt. Scott Rohmer said there will be 30 to 35 Ashland Police officers joining 40 National Guardsmen on hand to monitor any security problems.

"Our focus is to watch for anything suspicious, to be vigilant and to monitor the situation and preserve homeland security," said Rohmer. "We're looking for any suspicious people, vehicles, air crafts or that type of thing."
 
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