Officials to ramp up market security
Law enforcement officials said they will implement additional security measures for the upcoming High Point Market in response to Monday’s Boston Marathon bomb attack that killed three people and injured upward of 175.
Additional police personnel in certain common areas, increased security at market events and sweeps by bomb-detection dogs are among the steps that will be taken during market, which begins Saturday. More than 70,000 furniture professionals from 110 countries are expected to come to the city for the semi-annual trade show, which runs through April 25.
High Point police Chief Marty Sumner said the department and other agencies are reviewing the restrictions and precautions that were put in place for the market following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
“There’s no reason to believe this market is any kind of target. There’s no specific information, no specific threat. We’ve just raised our awareness level on account of what happened (in Boston),” Sumner said.
The chief said about 60 police officers will be patrolling the market district and surrounding areas, in addition to the typical volumes of off-duty and reserve officers who work security in individual showrooms.
He advised the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity immediately by calling 911. There will be a dedicated team of officers to respond to such calls during market, he said.
Monday’s attacks involved two bombs that detonated almost simultaneously near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Police have enlisted the help of area law enforcement agencies that have bomb-detection dogs to have them perform sweeps of areas where crowds gather during market.
Other measures, such as patrols by Tactical Team officers and monitoring of video surveillance systems, remain in place, as they have since 2002.
“I can’t stress enough that we have always treated the event like it could be (a target) for the last 11 years,” Sumner said. “People are concerned. Their awareness is up. We haven’t had anyone express any fear about coming to market.”
As in years past, no street parking will be allowed next to market buildings, no deliveries or large trucks will be allowed in the downtown market area from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, entry to showrooms will be restricted to people registered with the High Point Market Authority who have their market credentials displayed and no unattended vehicles will be allowed on city streets in the market area.
Officials advised marketgoers to carry and display their market passes, to be prepared to show additional identification and to be patient with building security officers.
“I don’t think there will be any disruptions or long lines,” Sumner said.
Market authority President Tom Conley said he did not expect the Boston bombings to deter anyone from attending market. He said pre-registration numbers are strong for the event.
“Obviously, what happened in Boston was a tragedy, but we think life will go on and we’ll have an outstanding market,” Conley said. “I can tell you that the city is well prepared. We talk about it often and these guys are really pros. They really know what they are doing.”