Security is a difficult subject to discuss, especially from the perspective of those setting it up.
Officials with the Boilermaker Road Race, the Utica Police Department and other entities involved, however, are confident that today’s race will be safe.
“The cooperation that we have with all the different entities that we have, I’m very comfortable that every base is covered,” said Race Director Jim Stasaitis. “Everybody’s feeling very confident that everything’s safe, but again, they’re still going to be on their toes all weekend long to make sure the security and safety of everybody is good.”
The security of the Boilermaker, like other large-crowd events, has improved as a response to certain events such as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Various training experiences and conferences have helped, too, with officials describing security measures as progressive.
They are a result of monthly meetings among the numerous entities that make up the security personnel.
“Everybody takes it seriously,” Stasaitis said. “Up until Boston, it was serious, but that just changed everything. They’re very dedicated to make sure that our runners, our volunteers and all our spectators are safe.”
Utica Police Department Lt. James Holt said officials also learn from other “critical incidents” at open-air events — such as the 2017 Las Vegas massacre in which a gunman killed 58 people attending a concert.
As a result, they plan on providing “serious access control” to certain areas such as the finish line and the after party, along with setting up choke points where security officials have set up bag checks.
Security today will be monitored from something called the unified command center. Located in an undisclosed location, various organizations will use it as a hub to communicate with each other.
There also is a list of things that are forbidden at the race, such as coolers, fireworks and drones. Officials also ask bystanders to follow the rule: If you see something, say something.
“We have a great plan, we have an all-encompassing plan,” Holt said. “We think we have tapped every resource and asset … that can be tapped.”
Part of those resources include the service of other entities such as the New York State Police and the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office. Other services are implemented in various other capacities, such as the Department of Transportation and the Utica Fire Department.
The police department has included the Boilermaker as part of its contract, meaning everyone has to work it. That is done so the city can save on overtime costs, Holt said.
Holt added that exact security costs for the race were diffused among numerous departments. He did say that the Boilermaker “does provide some funding for … safety and security purposes.”
But what money is spent is definitely worth it, Holt added.
All in all, you will notice police presence at the race, Stasaitis said. But the people who might look intimidating are there to help keep everyone secure, he added.
“Please be patient if you are carrying something and you’re asked to (have it checked),” he said. “Please be patient, be respectful to the officers and please comply with their wishes.
“If not, they have the authority to do what they have to do.”