Bombings Prompt Stepped Up Security at SoCal Events

Police will be out in force as hundreds of thousands attend a series of high-profile events this weekend

By Jason Kandel and Christina Cocca
|  Friday, Apr 19, 2013  |  Updated 11:16 AM PDT
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Officials are stepping up security measures at this weekend's Long Beach Grand Prix and other events across Southern California after bombings at the Boston Marathon left three dead Monday. Pictured here, a driver gets pushed by his crew during the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April 2012.

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With several major events expected to draw hundreds of thousands of spectators this weekend across Southern California, officials are beefing up security as a precaution against the potential for "copycat" attacks after Monday's bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Officials for the Long Beach Grand Prix, which is expected to draw 170,000, plan to expand security around downtown during the three-day event that began on Friday.

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"We're not going to let a heinous crime that took place in Boston deter our people from coming and enjoying what has now been a 39-year tradition in Long Beach," Jim Michaelian, the president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach LLC, told the Associated Press.

Authorities are expected on Sunday to police the 15-mile route from downtown to Venice during CicLAvia, an open-street event that promotes being vehicle-free. The event is expected to draw more than 100,000.

Some 150,000 people are expected Saturday and Sunday to turn out at USC for the 18th Annual L.A. Times Festival of Books, the largest book event in the country, officials said.

In addition to Ciclavia and the book fair, police plan to increase patrols around the Staples Center in downtown during Clippers and Kings games on Saturday and Sunday.

 “Although there is no information at the time that indicates any threat to our city, we’re not taking any chances," said Sally Madera, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman. "So we just asked officers to have an abundance of caution.”

The LAPD urged the public to use its iWatch.org website to report suspicious activity.

Long Beach police would not reveal specifics of a security plan for the Grand Prix, but officials urged the public to report suspicious activity. Long Beach, too, emphasized that no specific threats have been made against the city.

“If you see anything that concerns you ... don’t think twice -- call 911,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, during a Tuesday press conference.

As thousands are expected on Saturday at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks event, officials there announced an “action plan” for city events, which include crowd control measures, emergency responses and evacuation plans.

“Our policing philosophy has always been to be proactive and to engage our citizens to assist with our policing effort,” Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez said. “We will continue to ask the public’s help in being vigilant and reporting any suspicious activity to the Police Department.”

Tens of thousands of music fans are expected in the Palm Springs area city of Indio for the second weekend of the Coachella music festival.

Fans will not see a big difference in security, but there will be a "re-evaluation and redirection of certain resources," said Benjamin Guitron, an Indio Police Department spokesman, told the AP.

Officials are also expected to beef up security during Sunday’s Run-Through-Redlands half marathon, one of the biggest running events in the Inland Empire with some 4,000 people expected to participate.

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