SFPD, Bay to Breakers will take hard look at security concerns

April 16, 2013 7:04:31 PM PDT
Security for San Francisco's biggest foot race is a growing concern. The Bay to Breakers race is coming up in just 32 days. Race organizers and security experts talked with ABC7 News on Tuesday.

There will be about 30,000 people signed up for the race and about twice that will actually run. About 100,000 spectators are expected near the start area on Howard Street. They'll gather on the third Sunday in May. The city and race organizers promise safety will be a paramount importance.

The Bay to Breakers race director tells me the areas of high concern will be the start and the finish.

"Where ever there are large crowds, and police will provide us guidance as to what we need to do to insure that the race is safe," said Angela Fang, the Bay to Breakers race director.

Fang is waiting to hear from the police. On Monday, Police Chief Greg Suhr said the department is just now taking a fresh look.

"We will look at all of our plans for coming events with regard to public safety again and again. We'll make sure those plans are as tight as they've ever been," said Suhr.

A security expert who spent 25 years with the FBI and now runs his own private security firm says the bombing of the Boston Marathon will change the landscape of large public events, like the Bay to Breakers.

"Now they're going to have to look at, you know, security beyond the road itself, beyond the roped off area," said Rick Smith from Cannon Street Investigations.

Smith says if he were planning the security, he would want to sweep the high density areas right up until the race and maintain those areas as secure, until the race is over. That could mean security parameters blocks away from the race course.

"It's going to become more difficult to move about. It's just going to happen and no one's going to like it," said Smith.

For the Bay to Breakers it's a particular problem because the race has struggled with keeping big money sponsors. The race director didn't want to tell me what the race costs to put on the race, but it's been reported to be over $1 million. I asked her to what extent she could spend on extra security, but she wouldn't say.

"I don't really want to speculate on what guidance we're going to get from police until we sit down and have those conversations," said

A key piece in planning for the Bay to Breakers will be analyzing what happened in Boston. That's going on now. And while the particulars haven't been decided, the security expert I talked to said there is little question that venues are going to change because no one wants a repeat of what happened in Boston.

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