Salt Lake City Marathon set to proceed Saturday
The Salt Lake City Marathon will go on.
But law enforcement officials are taking nothing for granted during Saturday's race in the wake of Monday's deadly bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
At a Monday afternoon news conference, Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said his office already was receiving information from Boston authorities and the FBI. That intelligence will help guide Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Murray and South Salt Lake law enforcement as they scrutinize security for Saturday's event.
Burbank said his department, in concert with other agencies, will review and perhaps update security plans over the coming days. The chief said Monday that any specific comments on Saturday's police activities would be "premature."
"It comes down to a balancing act between security and the event," Burbank said. "This is a sporting event, not a security event."
Salt Lake City Marathon Director Steve Bingham said the organization did not once entertain the notion of canceling Saturday's race after learning of the explosions in Boston.
Since the last runner crossed the finish line in last year's Salt Lake City Marathon, Bingham has planned for April 20, 2013.
"Everything I'm always thinking about is finish line, finish line, finish line. â¦ Seeing that [scene in Boston], I'm shocked and angry and sad."
Bingham said there will be a public safety meeting Tuesday, one that has been on the books for months, which will feature organizers, law enforcement and representatives from the cities involved with the marathon.
"Whatever measures need to be taken," Bingham said, "we'll figure out."
Bingham said the No. 1 concern for any race director for any event is always the safety of the participants, spectators and volunteers who help the event run smoothly. That's why once a month each year, the marathon meets with different municipalities, police forces, health departments and counties to discuss every possible scenario and plan, leading up to the annual 26.2-mile race.
"We're there for everyone to walk out with an accomplishment," he said. "The other stuff makes it fun, but that doesn't drive our activity our activity is driven by keeping people safe."
Although providing security for a marathon course is daunting, Salt Lake area authorities have done it for years, Burbank said. Utah law enforcement officials also have the experience of the 2002 Winter Games, which provided invaluable training for veteran officers.
"This is nothing new. We live in a post 9/11 world," Burbank said. "I don't think it rattles our department. We have plans already in place."
Burbank said that prior to the Boston bombings he already had scheduled 75 percent of his force to work the marathon race day.
"We don't let a lot of folks take that day off."
In South Salt Lake, Executive Officer Gary Keller said his department would be reviewing in full its plans for covering its portion of the marathon.
"It's too soon to say. But we will take a look at this," he said referring to the Boston bombings. "But this has changed the whole outlook on it."
Bingham looks at Saturday as an opportunity for the running community, the state of Utah and the nation to commend the people of Boston for their bravery in the face of horror. He said the Salt Lake City Marathon is considering honoring those affected by the explosions but said nothing has been set in stone yet.
"It's just hard," he said, "to move forward from that right now."