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Security increased at Washington Parkway Classic

UPDATE – Friday – 4/20/2013 6:45 p.m.

WASHINGTON – Security will be stepped up at Sunday’s Washington Parkway Classic after the attacks in Boston.

Parking will be restricted around the finish line in Alexandria and trash cans will be sealed throughout the race course, according to a news release from race officials.

At noon Saturday, Pendelton street will close between Fairfax and Union streets and North Union Street will be closed between Oronoco and Pendelton streets, the release says.

No parking will be allowed on North Union Street between King and Oronoco streets between 4 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

These streets will also be closed starting at 6:30 a.m. Sunday:

  • George Washington Parkway (Washington Street) southbound from Franklin Street to the City line
  • Franklin Street between South Washington and South Union Streets, South Union to King Street, North Union to Oronoco Street, and parts of North Fairfax and Oronoco Streets.

EARLIER – Wednesday – 4/17/2013 2:29 p.m.

WASHINGTON – Six days after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, several thousand Washington-area runners and spectators will gather Sunday for the George Washington Parkway Classic road race.

“This Boston incident has reminded us that what we do and how we do it does make a difference,” says U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers, in an exclusive WTOP interview.

Chambers says police have developed, and will continue to refine a “robust” security plan to protect participants along the route. The race, between Mt. Vernon and Old Town Alexandria, follows George Washington Parkway, which is patrolled by the U.S. Park Police and maintained by the National Park Service.

“Some of the security plan will be very visible, and much of it will not,” says Chambers.”Trust that there’s much more going on, behind the scenes.”

chambers_teresa_parkpolice_mug.jpg

Chief Chambers

Chambers says the ongoing sequestration will however affect security operations.

“The manner in which we staff, where we get our resources, will be different, but the safety of the venue will not suffer,” says Chambers.

While planned furloughs of Park Police officers won’t happen for a few weeks, sequestration has already limited overtime. In past years, many officers would work overtime to staff special events like this road race.

“Depending on the event, and the manner in which it’s funded, there’s some limited use of overtime,” says Chambers.

For example, Chambers says a motor squad or horse-mounted officer would be assigned to work at the special event as part of their regular shift.

About 7,500 runners are expected to run in the event, which includes both a 10-mile and a 5-kilometer race.

Race organizers sent runners an email saying neighboring jurisdictions are coordinating with the Park Police to ensure their safety. Runners should expect to hear by Thursday about “enhanced security measures” for the race.

Chambers says officials are meeting Wednesday to update security measures.

Asked if runners and spectators should feel safe, Chambers gave a measured response.

“They should feel as secure as any American, in that we live in a country where we’re able to do so many things, but we shouldn’t be Pollyannaish about it,” said Chambers. “That’s the wake-up call whenever something bad happens.”

Chambers implores the public to be alert.

“I need every one of those runners and spectators as much as I need our officers and the neighboring jurisdictions for that race to be safe,” said Chambers. “Keep your eyes and your ears open.”

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