New York Officials to Use Counterterrorism Tactics at NYC Marathon

NEW YORK — New York City will be using multiple techniques to ensure Sunday’s marathon is safe for both runners and spectators.

In a press conference Wednesday morning at the finish line in Central Park, Keechant Sewell, the NYPD Commissioner, and Martine Materasso, head of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism unit, said no credible threats exist for the race or the city, and they’re confident that the event will go off without a hitch.

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“The NYPD uniformed presence will be evident wherever one looks this weekend,” Sewell said. “Our efforts will again include much the public will see, and much you will not see.”

She said that “safeguarding” an event of this size is no easy feat, but “securing events like these are what the NYPD does on a regular basis” and security is going to be very visible on Sunday and at the run-up to the race.

After a cancellation in 2020 due to the pandemic and a smaller field last year when registration was capped at 33,000 runners, this year marks a return to its pre-pandemic full capacity size of 50,000 participants.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.

Materasso said that although there are no specific threats, the city will nonetheless deploy “significant counterterrorism” tactics across the 26.2 miles of the race to ensure the runners and the 2 million spectators will be safe. “We will be deploying heavy weapons teams and explosive detection canines and our bomb squad along the entire route,” Materasso said. “Explosive trace detection equipment and handheld ones will be used at all access points.”

Maritime teams will monitor the waterways and bridge crossings over the course of the day, she said, and the security team will be “actively monitoring the race with our vast array of technological tools, including cameras, license plate readers and chemical and radiological sensors.” There will also be plain-clothed teams interspersed within the crowds.

Runners checking in at the start of the marathon in Staten Island, New York, will be “thoroughly screened” both there and in Central Park. Prohibited items will include backpacks, signs and glass containers. The use of drones is also prohibited and the air space will be monitored.

“The marathon presents a unique set of challenges because of its size and complexity, but the officers assigned to [this duty] are up to those challenges and we are confident this year will be a tremendous success,” Materasso said.

The press conference was held right after a ceremonial painting event where race and city officials used colored paint to signify the blue line that will be painted on the course throughout the five boroughs.

Runners from around the world have already begun arriving in New York City in anticipation of the 51st edition of the race. New Balance is the official apparel and footwear sponsor of the race and has created a special New York City Marathon Collection that includes everything from footwear and apparel to accessories that will be sold at the expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center from Thursday through Saturday.

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