Police departments everywhere are reviewing security measures for large public events in light of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings. A large outdoor event that typically draws more than 10,000 people is taking place on Saturday in Springfield Massachusetts.
An updated security plan is being prepared by the Springfield Police Department for this Saturday’s annual civic event “The World’s Largest Pancake Breakfast.” Sergeant John Delaney, aide to Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet won’t discuss specific security arrangements, but he said the police presence would be beefed up. He said police will patrol the area on foot and bicycle and the K-9 unit will be deployed.
Delaney said there would be no restrictions on what people are allowed to bring with them to the event and no changes in how people enter the downtown area where the annual community breakfast takes place. He said there is no reason for people to be nervous about attending.
Although the breakfast will be the first large outdoor public event in Springfield since the Boston Marathon bombings, Delaney said security was tightened for recent Springfield Falcons games at the MassMutual Center. The team, which is in the American Hockey League playoffs, has played in front of large crowds.
The annual pancake breakfast started more than 25 years ago as a competition between Springfield and Battle Creek Michigan ,known for its long association with breakfast cereal. Several blocks of Main Street are closed to vehicles .Picnic tables are set up end to end on the street. Thousands of people come and go for the breakfast between 8 and 11AM as hundreds of volunteers serve up pancakes, bacon, coffee, milk and juice.
The area of downtown where the breakfast takes place has a high concentration of security cameras, which were installed several years ago by the Springfield Business Improvement District.
The Springfield Police Department’s K-9 unit, which will be part of the security on Saturday, has more than doubled in size since last September, increasing from three dogs to seven, with two more additions planned. The unit was on display Monday at a community outreach event at the White Street Elementary School where two fourth-graders won an essay contest to name the newest Springfield police dog “ Hunter.”
Tommy Horne, the K-9 officer who partners with “Hunter,” was once a student at the school.
Springfield’s police dogs are used to track suspects fleeing the scene of crimes, locate missing persons, and identified suspected drugs and explosives. Horne said it can take 10 weeks to train a dog.
The Springfield Police Department’s K-9 unit is subsidized by the Springfield Kennel Club. Member Tom Davies said the club has established a special fund to help purchase police dogs for Springfield and other local police departments
The newest dog on the Springfield police force is a German Shepherd that came from the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Connecticut. The non-profit has been supplying dogs to police departments in the northeast for fifty years.