Pirates, Penguins, Penn State, race officials tighten security

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Security measures swiftly tightened at local sporting events, following the deadly bombings Monday at the Boston Marathon. "Obviously, with this incident in Boston a month before our marathon, everyone's going to be on a heightened level of alert," Pittsburgh public safety director Michael Huss said Tuesday.

The chiefs of the city's fire, EMS and police bureaus discussed plans for the May 5 marathon during their previously scheduled chiefs' meeting Tuesday morning. Acting police Chief Regina McDonald referred questions to Mr. Huss.

The city plans to pull additional resources from agencies at the county, state and federal levels, Mr. Huss said, declining specifics.

"You will see a considerable presence," he said, "and we are 100 percent confident that we are going to have a safe marathon."

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl mirrored this optimism in a statement Tuesday.

"We cannot let the terrible acts of a few affect our support for what promises to be the fourth consecutive, safe and successful Pittsburgh Marathon," he said.

"We have successfully hosted large-scale events ranging from Super Bowl and Stanley Cup parades to the G-20 Economic Summit, and I am confident that our well-trained public safety officials will keep residents and visitors safe during next month's race."

City officials evaluate how effective they were after the marathon each year, Mr. Huss said. They focused on developing extra plans after the 2010 marathon, when organizers moved the finish line after someone spotted a microwave thought to contain explosives, though the bomb squad did not find any.

"For the 2011 marathon, we put considerable planning efforts into scenarios involving [explosive ordnance disposal], devices and threats. A lot of work has been done," he said.

City officials, who are in daily contact with marathon organizers, have not received any specific threats regarding the Pittsburgh Marathon, Mr. Huss and Chief McDonald said.

"We're going to continue to see what intelligence unfolds out of Boston and adjust it as necessary," Mr. Huss said.

This week's local sporting events quickly adopted stricter security plans following Monday's attack.

Before Tuesday's home game was postponed by evening thunderstorms, the Pirates issued this statement: "Fan safety and security is always our first priority at PNC Park. Our policies and procedures relating to these matters have been reiterated with our staff and will be strictly followed."

The Penguins also announced "heightened security measures for upcoming games and events at Consol Energy Center" and asked attendees to arrive early for events. Tonight's home game is against Montreal. The Penguins face the Bruins in Boston on Friday.

The Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres tonight, in Boston's first sporting event since the marathon.

Penn State officials announced heightened security measures Saturday for the annual Blue-White football scrimmage.

Fans will be prohibited from taking bags, backpacks, purses, umbrellas, strollers, footballs or diaper bags into Beaver Stadium, according to a release. Penn State wants fans who have medical equipment or diapers for small children to carry those supplies in one-gallon, zip-close plastic bags. The release said there will be additional security personnel for the game.

Visitors will not be allowed to carry bags, backpacks or purses into any campus venue hosting an event this weekend.

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Lexi Belculfine: lbelculfine@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1438. Twitter: @liznavratil. Shelly Anderson and Mark Dent contributed.


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