Law enforcement plans in place to keep Louisiana Marathon safe

Nine months after the Boston Marathon bombings, an official with the Louisiana Marathon said while no credible threats have been received leading up to the Sunday event in Baton Rouge, law enforcement is still on guard.

More than 160 law enforcement agents will be on hand Sunday throughout the race course of the Louisiana Marathon, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, to ensure the safety of runners and spectators, race officials said.

The marathon will begin on the steps of the State Capitol and end near Fourth Street and Spanish Town Road.

Craig Sweeney, race director for the Louisiana Marathon, said more than 130 Baton Rouge police, LSU Police and East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies will be stationed at intersections throughout the course and more than 30 State Police troopers and Department of Public Safety officers will patrol the downtown area with bomb-sniffing dogs and perform normal event security protocols.

“We’ve got a good plan and we’re excited,” Sweeney said.

One official who was in Boston during the marathon, LSU athletic trainer Ray Castle, will serve as the medical coordinator and handle organization of the medical staff and supplies.

Sweeney said police officers working in the beginning portion of the course will move toward areas in the back half of the course once the race is underway to act as relief in case other officers stationed there need a break. That will ensure a consistent police presence on the course, Sweeney said.

On the course, officers at each intersection will be responsible for keeping the streets clear for the runners.

Sweeney said he’s received questions from a handful of runners about security.

“I guess it’s one of those things where you want to be prepared,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney had State Police spokesman Capt. Doug Cain on the marathon operating committee this year as a volunteer security liaison to coordinate efforts among all the agencies.

Cain assembled a security committee consisting of personnel from several agencies and met with officials from those agencies to get a feel for what worked in the past, find out what they learned last year and what needed to be changed for this year’s race.

Some of the officers will be in uniform, while others will be in plainclothes in the crowd, Cain said. He said planning and implementing of policies began about four months ago.

“Law enforcement in Louisiana knows how to work together and put on safe festivals, we do it all year every year,” Cain said. “They done a great job of promoting it. So from a law enforcement aspect, we just want to make sure it’s safe.”