After Boston, Columbia questions its security - DatelineCarolina

After fatal bombing in Boston, Columbia raises questions about its own security


By Erin Shaw

A national tragedy in Boston is causing security officials in Columbia to rethink safety measures.

After two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, where more than 130 South Carolinians were running, security for events that draw big crowds is being called into question.

"This is an opportunity to look at the plans and procedures and look to see if everything is in place," said Thom Berry, a State Law Enforcement Division spokesman. "If there is a need for heightened security, then that can happen."

Berry said he would expect to see an increased law enforcement presence for upcoming events in Columbia, or enough for people to consider "appropriate."

For running events in particular, security can be difficult. Unlike sports in a basketball or football arena, where security workers can monitor who gets into an enclosed area, runners on a race course pass countless houses, buildings and passers-by who haven't been through security checks.

"Unfortunately in the sport that we do, you're never going to have a completely closed-down area," said Jordan Lybrand, manager of Columbia athletic store Strictly Running. "A race course is open for the most part to anybody."

For upcoming events at the University of South Carolina like baseball games and commencement ceremonies, Capt. Eric Grabski of the USC Police Department said that law enforcement will look at what happened in Boston and adapt plans if necessary.

Grabski said his department does protective sweeps for all major campus events, often working with other departments like the FBI or Secret Service.

For now, he said, the plan is to continue to be vigilant because a similar event could "absolutely" happen in Columbia.

"You wouldn't think that Columbia, S.C., would be a place where someone would want to cause harm," Grabski said, "but we can't think that we are immune to this."

- Lauren Stitzlein contributed to this story.


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