FRAMINGHAM -- The Boston FBI said that there has been “no specific threat” made against this year’s Boston Marathon, but they’re taking few chances as public safety officials announced that there will be an extraordinary police presence along the 26.2-mile route.
“We are taking every precaution necessary if a threat should pop up,” Boston field office Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kiernan Ramsey said. But so far, the FBI has “no specific intelligence that there is a threat to the Boston Marathon.”
But both Ramsey and Massachusetts State Police Colonel Tim Alben acknowledged there hadn’t been a specific threat or intelligence that warned them of the tragedy of last year’s event, when three people were killed and more than 260 were injured in a dual bombing near the finish line.
“There was no chatter last year, and we are all very aware what happened then," Alben told ABC News.
The remarks came the same day as a press conference held inside the Massachusetts Emergency Management bunker to reiterate the new rules for the 118th annual race. Some 36,000 runners have qualified for the race, officials said.
Backpacks are prohibited through the eight cities and towns that participate in the marathon and police are urging spectators along the route to carry belongings in clear plastic bags. No one will be allowed to carry coolers or any containers of liquid more than one liter, said Kurt Schwartz, Massachusetts Undersecretary of Homeland Security. In last year’s bombing, two brothers allegedly used two pressure cookers to house their explosives, brought to the race in dark bags.
“No one is building walls between spectators and runners,” Schwartz said, calling the security “reasonable.”
That security will also include State Police helicopters overhead, bomb sniffing dogs, uniformed National Guard soldiers who are trained and certified as military police officers, and hundreds of uniformed police officers who will be alongside an untold number of plainclothes law enforcement officials, Schwartz said.
“We are all mindful of what happened a year ago," Schwartz said.
Scores of people are running in honor of the victims – Martin Richard, 8, Boston University student Lingzi Lu, and restaurant manager Krystal Campbell – who died at the scene and others who were maimed for life.
“We never forget the tragedy and suffering that occurred last year," Boston Athletic Association Director Thomas Grilk said.
Officials insist that the character of the 118-year event will be preserved if runners and Patriots Day revelers cooperate by not bringing bags and bottles to the event, helping authorities “strike the right balance,” for the race.
"It will be a fun, festive, family focused day," Schwartz insisted.
Michele McPhee is a freelance reporter and frequent ABC News contributor based in Boston.