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Boston Marathon security: 5,000 cops, no drones or backpacks

BOSTON (AP) – As security plans for this year’s Boston Marathon are being finalized, lessons learned from the 2013 marathon bombing and three major attacks elsewhere over the last year are being incorporated, authorities said Wednesday.

Hank Shaw, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said no specific threats have been made against this year’s marathon. But he said the intelligence community remains vigilant after attacks in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, California. He said authorities urge people to report anything suspicious.

“The often-used phrase ‘See something, say something’ can save lives,” Shaw said during a news conference with law enforcement and marathon officials.

“I feel strongly that we have a well-thought-out plan, which will continue to be updated as needed as the race day approaches,” Shaw said.

The 120th running of the Boston Marathon is scheduled for April 18. The world’s oldest annual marathon is expected to attract approximately 30,000 runners and as many as 1 million spectators.

Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said nearly 5,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officers will be stationed along the 26.2-mile course and in the state’s emergency management bunker in Framingham.

Like the last two years, spectators are being asked to leave backpacks and other large bags at home and to carry only clear plastic bags, which are easier to search. People are also being asked to refrain from flying drones over any part of the marathon route.

Enhanced security checkpoints will be set up at key entry points for spectators, and dozens of surveillance cameras are being installed along the route.

Security has been stepped up significantly since two pressure-cooker bombs hidden in backpacks exploded near the 2013 finish line. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured.

Brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev detonated the bombs in an attack prosecutors said was meant to retaliate against the U.S. for its actions in Muslim countries.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted and sentenced to death for his role. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a getaway attempt days after the bombings.

Authorities at the news conference wouldn’t give specifics on how the security plan has been enhanced since last year but said it’s possible the public might not notice any changes.

“The public should expect enhanced security zones in some areas,” Schwartz said. “Those 5,000 law enforcement officers will be watching, vigilant, looking for any type of suspicious indicators.”