Those who come to the Esplanade for the Fourth of July concert this year will notice a swarm of State Police troopers in yellow vests and more surveillance cameras will be mounted along the park and near the Hatch Shell where the Boston Pops will perform, officials said today.
It is all part of a part of a stepped-up security effort by officials in the wake of the April 15 terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line.
“We had a good plan for many years here,” State Police Colonel Timothy Alben told reporters Wednesday. “This year, we’ve gone way beyond that.”
Law enforcement officials from Boston, Cambridge, Transit Police, the FBI, and the National Guard gathered Wednesday at the Unified Command Center, a room filled with analysts and officers from various agencies who are charged with routing police and medical personnel on the ground to any emergencies that might arise during the July Fourth celebrations.
Alben said hundreds more troopers, federal officials, and police officers from local departments will be patrolling the area Wednesday night and all day Thursday.
“I want people to feel like this is a safe place to come,” Alben said.
People are urged to approach troopers with any tips or if they want to provide information anonymously, they may text the keyword Boston4 to 67283.
On Wednesday morning, families pushing strollers and elderly couples walking hand in hand could be seen strolling through the Esplanade, apparently unaware of the cameras trained on them.
There will be “an exponentially larger amount of cameras than ever before,” Alben said. The wireless cameras are already set up on telephone poles and trees. Most of them are meant to be visible so they can act as a deterrent, he said.
But they also serve another purpose. Should someone commit a criminal act, police will be able to use the cameras to piece together what happened much like they did after the April 15 attacks, Alben said. He declined to say how many cameras have been installed.
Over the last week, officials have made it clear that security around the 2013 July Fourth events will be different than anything celebrants have ever seen.
Authorities have announced that there will be new security checkpoints on the Esplanade and tough new bans that will prohibit visitors from carrying in backpacks, coolers on wheels, cans, glass containers, premixed beverages, liquids greater than 2 liters, or any sharp objects.
The restrictions and anxiety around the event have caused some to say they may steer clear of the Esplanade this year.
On Thursday, officials urged the public to come.
“We want you all to come and enjoy this celebration which is at the heart of America,” Alben said. “My family is coming. I hope yours is, too.”
Governor Deval Patrick today told reporters that he will be on the Esplanade for the Fourth.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Patrick said. “There’s obviously going to be a lot more law enforcement presence to help assure everybody’s safety and good time and also comfort people… I’ll be there myself and I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a great day.”Maria Cramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.