Red White & Boom!
Officials ramp up security efforts, post-Boston bombing
Because of the Boston Marathon bombings, Red White & Boom! will have a beefed-up security detail.
For starters, there will be a 10- to 15-percent increase in local law enforcement and federal plainclothes agents patrolling the downtown area, said Mike Collins, president of Promotions One, the firm that puts on the Independence Day celebration.
Also, for the first time, the city will flip the switch on up to 40 security cameras being installed downtown where major events take place: in the areas of North Bank and Genoa parks, Marconi and Civic Center drives, and Broad and Front streets.
"I think it's brought a different level of attention and care and safety to outdoor events of all sorts across the country," Collins said of the April 15 bombings that killed three spectators and injured nearly 300 people.
"And I think Columbus is responding exceptionally well by adding the instruments that can be helpful to security and safety."
Within 48 hours of the Boston bombing, Collins said he met with Columbus Safety Director Mitchell Brown, who relayed the new action plan.
"He was very clear where we were going as a result of this, very clear," Collins said.
"The reality is with this year's event, in light of what happened in Boston, we're asking people to be more vigilant and aware of their surroundings," said Amanda Ford, spokeswoman for public safety.
Upwards of 250,000 spectators are expected at the 33rd annual event, which will be held from noon to 11 p.m. July 3.
"People need to feel safe," Collins said.
"This is going to be as safe as it's ever been," he said. "Second, people need to be attentive. If you see something, say something."
Per the event's annual custom, which began in 2006, officials will run canine and visual sweeps of all food vendors and automobiles in the Red White & Boom perimeter, which is roughly bounded by Vine, Front, Bell and Main streets, a 14-square-block area that occupies both sides of the Scioto River.
Collins said event organizers have streamlined communications between staff, safety officials and security headquarters. In addition, local volunteers and staff will undergo additional training.
New this year, if coolers, folding chairs, backpacks, tents and other portable items are left unattended, they will be confiscated, Collins said.
"This is going to be treated like the airport," he said.