Police make security at Tanglewood events priority
Local and state police are working with the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department and Tanglewood management in planning stepped-up security precautions for major outdoor events at the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home and elsewhere in the county.
Although the Tanglewood's performance season doesn't begin until June, the site hosts the fourth annual Memorial Day Marathon on May 25-26. It could draw up to 2,000 participants for its seven running events, along with friends, family members and spectators. The event is being promoted as a tribute to honor the survivors of the April 15th Boston Marathon bombings.
Berkshire public safety officials have convened planning sessions to complete a strategy plan, most of which will remain private for security reasons.
"The meetings are all-encompassing," said Lenox Police Chief Stephen O'Brien.
"We will probably be a little more vigilant in tracking suspicious-acting people," O'Brien said. "Obviously, some people are more egregious in their suspicious maneuvers and gestures than others."
O'Brien acknowledged the impossibility of checking every backpack and package brought to outdoor events, and he asked "is that something we want to do, to be so restrictive at events that cater to the public?"
"We've reviewed the plans and we will enhance them," O'Brien added. "We will try to be as vigilant as we can for all these events, but we don't want to make it so restrictive that people are not having the fun that they came for."
"We've tossed around some good ideas," said Matt Linick, organizer of the Memorial Weekend Marathon.
"We'll do some things the public may not see to make sure everyone is safe," Linick said. "I think we're taking all the right steps to make sure."
Existing plans for the marathon and other outdoor events have been reviewed during the strategy sessions, according to O'Brien, "but we're not going to get into specifics of safety and security concerns."
"Our level of alertness increases a little bit, from a police perspective anyway," the Lenox chief explained. "I would certainly hope that the level of alertness has increased as well on the civilian side."
"People should not feel any apprehension about reporting things that they think are suspicious," he said. "We will do what we can to make the race as safe as we can."
Representing the Boston Symphony at the sessions was Robert Lahart, the manager of Tanglewood facilities. He was unavailable for an interview.
But, according to a statement by BSO Director of Public Relations Bernadette Horgan, "We are working closely with public safety officials and the race promoter to assure that any activities on the Tanglewood grounds abide by the plans they put in place."
Security procedures for Tanglewood are being reviewed as they are each spring to determine if any changes are needed, Horgan added.
"Since we're still in the process of reviewing that subject, we don't have anything specific to report at this time," she said.
"Our job is not only to keep people safe but to make them feel safe," said Stockbridge Police Chief Richard "Rick" Wilcox. "We have to find the right balance to give people comfort without creating
He acknowledged that "awareness levels are higher and our efforts are enhanced" following the Boston attack.
"It adds another layer. There will be a lot of unseen things done behind the scenes. Anyone who attended last year's Memorial Day Marathon will notice stepped-up security this year."
Race organizer Linick announced this week that Berkshire Bank plans a $10,000 match from "Boston Strong" bracelets sold at the Lenox-based marathon. Runners who were unable to finish the Boston Marathon because of the bombings can get half-price registration for the local event.
The finish-line banner will display "Boston Strong" and all runners will receive the bracelets imprinted with the motto. Spectators can purchase the bracelets for $5 at the Berkshire Bank tent on the Tanglewood grounds.
Proceeds benefit The One Fund, set up to benefit the 270 survivors of the explosions that killed three people. So far, nearly $26 million has been raised, about $10 million from individual donors and the rest from corporations.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
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On Twitter: @BE_cfanto