Security is top of mind for planners of local sporting events

acornejo@thetribunenews.com, clambert@thetribunenews.comApril 16, 2013 

The 2013 San Luis Obispo Marathon + Half was held Sunday, April 7.

LAURA DICKINSON — ldickinson@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Organizers and hosts of two sporting events in San Luis Obispo County said they may add extra security or modify their safety plans in light of the deadly explosions at Monday’s Boston Marathon.

Sheriff Ian Parkinson will hold a meeting next week with other law enforcement agencies to discuss whether they need to revise safety plans for the Amgen Tour of California professional cycling race, which stops in San Luis Obispo County on May 16.

Avila Beach will host a stage finish that day for the 128 riders and potentially thousands of spectators.

“We already have a special operations plan in place for the Amgen tour, so now what they’ll do is decide whether they need to modify those plans in light of what happened,” sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said. “You can expect an increased law enforcement presence on that day because of Boston.”

Arroyo Grande police, CHP, the FBI, Cal Fire and San Luis Ambulance are among the agencies making preparations for the cycling event.

“As much as you suspect that the Boston Marathon was an isolated event, if there’s something we can do to beef up security, then we’ll do it,” Supervisor Adam Hill said.

Meanwhile, Heather Hellman, event director of the San Luis Obispo Marathon, said that increased safety measures are already being discussed for next year’s race in April 2014. Security plans were already in place for the start and finish lines of the race, which was just held April 7. Nearly 3,000 runners participated in the half and full marathons.

“Our primary concern for the race has always been the safety of our athletes,” Hellman said. “Boston has taken that discussion to a whole new level.”

Hellman spoke by phone from a conference in Chicago that was also attended by other marathon and event directors. She said increased safety has been a focus of their discussion after Monday’s bombing.

Hellman plans to meet Sheriff Ian Parkinson and other members of the security team used at the annual event to see what measures can be strengthened or need changed.

“We are a year away, and we are already talking about it,” Hellman said.

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