ATLANTA (AP) - Emergency responders are planning an increased presence at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta and more than 100 other events throughout the state during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Uniformed and plainclothes officers will patrol crowds at holiday events and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency is working with local, state and federal officials to monitor any potential security threats, said director Jim Butterworth.
“There is no specific, credible intelligence to indicate any threats against celebrations over the 4th of July weekend,” Special Agent Stephen Emmett of the FBI Atlanta Field Office said in an email. “We have however seen repeated calls for violence over the past year by leadership and supporters of known terrorist organizations against members of the military and military installations, law enforcement, the U.S. government, and the American public.”
The number of law enforcement officers monitoring holiday weekend events has increased slightly this year, Butterworth said. It’s unclear exactly how many officers and security personnel will be at holiday weekend events, but Butterworth said the total will be in the thousands.
“Our hope is, quite frankly, that to the casual observer there won’t be a marked increase,” he said. “This is our holiday and our opportunity to celebrate our freedom. The last thing I would want to do is indicate that anyone should feel threatened.”
Butterworth, Emmett and others say people need to be aware of their surroundings and immediately report suspicious activity to authorities.
Organizers of the Peachtree Road Race have said with roughly 60,000 participants, the run is the largest 10K in the world.
The main race begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on Peachtree Street near Lenox Mall in Buckhead and ends at Piedmont Park in Midtown. Cameras will be placed along the race route and uniformed police will be assisted by undercover officers and the Atlanta Police Department’s mounted patrol unit, Sgt. Greg Lyon said.
Officers are scheduled to work 12-hour shifts on July 3 and 4, and officials are encouraging visitors to download the department’s mobile application for crime maps, emergency notifications and more.
Atlanta visitors are encouraged to use mass transit over the weekend and Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority police have also coordinated an increased presence at train stations.
“We are monitoring all the intel that we’re receiving from our federal partners from the TSA and the FBI. And we actually have officers that will be staffing the city of Atlanta’s joint operations command center,” MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham said. She later added that passengers should download a free “See Something, Say Something” application to discreetly report suspicious activity.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials are expecting more than 327,000 travelers during the holiday travel period, and Atlanta police have said patrols have been increased there through July 5.
Police will work overtime to help with traffic control and Lyon said plainclothes officers will help monitor crowds, and K9 units along with the department’s Airport Special Response Team will be stationed at checkpoints.
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