Valdosta Daily Times

State News

June 25, 2013

Bag searches, more police expected at Atlanta race

ATLANTA — Bags, backpacks and purses will be searched near the finish line of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race.

Race officials say that at this year’s event, more areas will be restricted to volunteers and race workers at the annual race in Atlanta, which is set for the Fourth of July.

Workers will be at the entry points to the start at Lenox Square and at the finish line in midtown Atlanta, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/a1eK ). They will be searching bags and backpacks before people can get inside a fence that will be set up around the Meadow at Piedmont Park.

Authorities say there will be more local, state and federal law enforcement officers at the race and officials are urging spectators to report anything suspicious.

“As a result of what happened in Boston in April, we have worked very closely with the city of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department and several state and federal agencies,” said Tracey Russell, director of the race and executive director of the Atlanta Track Club. “We’re being careful.”

The bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon were concealed in innocuous looking backpacks left on the sidewalk. Three people were killed and more than 140 injured.

Participants say they understand the need for additional security.

“In the wake of the Boston bombings, you have to take the proper precautionary measures even though it might slow down the process of people starting the race and/or finishing the race,” said Ari Weitz, an Atlanta consultant running his fifth race “It’s something that has to be done to make people feel more comfortable.”

Ben Dorfman, running the Peachtree for the third time, said his wife will have no choice about bringing a diaper bag when she and their infant child meet him at the end of the race.

“I understand. It’s the age we live in now,” said Dorfman, a 36-year-old attorney who lives in Grant Park. “I understand the need, or the perceived need, for it but I don’t think there will be a problem.”

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