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City prepares for Honolulu Marathon with extra security

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Dec 04 2013 05:38:00 PM HST

A fatal bombing at a major Boston marathon last year, prompts Hawaii authorities to take extra steps to reinforce safety for participants, helpers, and spectators.

HONOLULU -

The city will activate its Emergency Operations center for this weekend's Honolulu Marathon.

Never before has a road race triggered the activation of what is "nerve central" for the city.

It's used for disaster planning and was tapped when world leaders converged in Honolulu two years ago. 

But the Boston bombing has created a new reality.

"The EOC will be open and we will be monitoring the event from midnight, until 6 the next evening," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Thirteen extra cameras have already been installed along the route and the city is working out the bugs to have them fully operational on race day.

Out on the course, expect to see extra uniformed officers and there will be plain-clothed officers you won't see.

Police also plan to tap its K-nine unit to check out anything suspicious.

"Our Number 1 priority is public safety," said Police Chief Louis Kealoha.

Police will set up a joint operations center partnering with state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The city has also been stepping up its efforts to keep sidewalks along the race route clear of other debris, tents or other items that could disguise hidden dangers.

"The process is already started. The focus is on the race route and we arenot going to stop until the race is done," said Ross Sasamura.

Precautions that organizers believe are necessary to protect what some call the people's race.

"We hope to work closely and collaboratively behind the scenes, to have a safe event on Sunday, and at the same time very importantly, maintaining the aloha spirit," said Honolulu Marathon President Jim Barahal.

On hand a key official of the New York City Marathon-- a recent race where 50 thousand people finished safely.

"It was the largest marathon ever in history and Dr. Barahal was there as an observer. He was able to see some of the things we did there and I am 110 percent sure that everything here will be safe and secure and most importantly, fun," said David Monti.

And a key message to the public: You can help too.

"Please folks, from now until the end of the marathon if you see something, say something. If you see something strange and it doesn’t feel right, your gut is telling you something, call 911," said Mayor Caldwell.

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