Members of the DSS and the Peruvian National Police in Boston. (Dept. of State)
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By Glynn Cosker
Managing Editor, In Homeland Security
The Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is collaborating with its counterparts from Peru as they help secure runners and onlookers at Monday’s Boston Marathon. DSS will welcome members of the Peruvian National Police, giving them a chance to observe and support security at the marathon in preparation for Peru’s hosting of the Pan American Games in Lima from July 26 to August 11.
DSS is the federal law enforcement and security sector of the U.S. Department of State – primarily focused on securing the safety of U.S. personnel, property and other resources overseas. Additionally, DSS secures the Secretary of State and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at all times and the security of all foreign dignitaries attending the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York City. Another major task of DSS is securing American interests in overseas sporting events as well as liaising with other agencies to help secure large sporting events at home, so the Peruvian officials can take home some valuable tips as they get ready to host their games.
Pan American Games To Be Held in Peru
The Pan American Games take place every four years. Close to 7,000 athletes, representing 41 countries, will compete in 39 sports at various venues – including Lima’s 45,000-seat Estadio Nacional del Perú.
“We brought seven officials from various elements of Peru’s law enforcement and security posture who lead efforts including security planning, intelligence, terrorism, transportation and technology,” stated Pan Am Games Security Coordinator Special Agent Timothy Kerwin. “The members of the Peruvian delegation are looking forward to applying the training and advice they received in Boston; everything from planning for crowd control, mass transportation needs, and crisis response – these are all best practices they plan on applying to the Pan American Games.”
Boston Marathon Bombing
The Boston Marathon is always a massive security undertaking which now includes extra enhancements in response to the horrific terror attack in 2013 that killed three people and injured hundreds. Today’s race occurs on the sixth anniversary of that bombing. Preventing future attacks at the marathon, or at any worldwide sporting event, is paramount for DSS officials and their guests from South America.
“We are trying to give our Peruvian counterparts an overview of the preparation involved, and an in-depth review of the lessons that were learned from the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013,” said DSS Boston Field Office Special Agent in Charge William Gannon. “We hope they will be able to take away some of the effective measures implemented in Boston and apply them to the monumental task of securing the Pan American Games. We also hope to learn some strategies from them. It has been a very interactive and collaborative visit so far.”
Gannon also stated that DSS has liaised with the Massachusetts State Police’s STOP team, who demonstrated tactical operations to prepare for various threats (active shooter, criminal takedowns, etc.); FEMA, which held discussions on emergency preparedness planning for major events and disaster response; and The Global Leadership Institute at Boston College, which hosted a forum with former Boston Police Commission William Evans.
DSS Overt Roles
The Boston Marathon has more than 30,000 participants with an anticipated crowd of around 500,000 along the 26.2 mile course. The runners start the race in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and finish in the heart of downtown Boston. Protecting and securing the athletes and crowd is a multidimensional project involving months of preparation.
“Liaison and coordination are the major challenges for this event,” said Gannon. “Most marathons take place within one jurisdiction; this one is spread over the course of nine separate jurisdictions.”
According to Gannon, DSS plans to provide “agents to augment the federal, city, state, and local law enforcement resources.” DSS agents, with their Peruvian counterparts observing in close proximity, will carry out “overt roles working at checkpoints as well as in plain clothes, assisting with the detection of suspicious behavior.”
DSS is one of many security and law enforcement entities present during the Boston Marathon. Its agents work closely with the Boston Police Department in preparation for – and during – the big race. DSS and Boston police also partner for many other large events in the city throughout the year.
“During Sail Boston 2017, agents and intel analysts were embedded in the Joint Operations Center, coordinated a large diplomatic reception at the State House with the Massachusetts State Police, and worked to secure diplomatic receptions on various vessels,” Boston Field Office SS Special Agent Sean Kirkpatrick explained. “And, our Boston Field Office secures the annual Fourth of July celebrations in Boston in a similar manner to how we are supporting the marathon.”
“Our Boston Field Office played a major role in the Copa América soccer tournament in 2016. Gillette Stadium was one of the sites,” added Gannon. “DSS had agents embedded with the international teams and Boston agents played liaison roles during the planning and leading up to the games. During Secretary of State John Kerry’s tenure, our Boston Field Office supported his visits to many of the major events, including the 2013 World Series win at Fenway Park, New England Patriots playoff games, Boston Bruins playoff games, and Harvard vs Yale ice hockey games.”
The Boston Marathon is set to start a little after 9:00 a.m. EST on Monday.
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