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Extra security set for this weekend's Little 500 in Bloomington

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 5:35 pm

BLOOMINGTON — Heightened security measures and an expanded police presence will greet visitors at this weekend's annual Little 500 bicycle races in response to Monday's deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon, authorities said.

Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff said Tuesday his department began consulting with Indiana University officials after the Boston bombings and additional security steps are now in place for the popular races and related campus events.

"We've taken into account what has happened in Boston and have put in place plans that we think are appropriate," he said.

Diekhoff told The Herald-Times that some of those plans include a stronger police presence at the outdoor bicycle races, but he declined to give specifics.

While there will be a heightened police presence at the weekend races and other Little 500 events, IU interim Police Chief Laury Flint said it's important for anyone who notices anything suspicious in Bloomington during the weekend events to report that immediately to authorities.

Flint said that in light of the Boston attacks which killed three people and wounded more than 170, the heightened security measures at the Little 500 events are appropriate.

"It's a tragedy. People like to feel safe in their own backyard," she said. "They will see plenty of us out there. I don't think there will be any instance where they don't feel there is law enforcement available as needed."

The IU police force's bomb-sniffing police dog, a German shepherd named Tery, will be part of the weekend police presence on the campus. The canine has worked various IU basketball games at Assembly Hall and in police investigations since 2012.

As with past Little 500 weekends, Bloomington police will have two officers assigned to ride together in each patrol car and some officers may work 12-hour shifts.

More officers will also patrol Bloomington's downtown bar district and apartment complexes, as is past years.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Curt Durnil said members of the State Police and state Department of Homeland Security will be in constant contact with the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, headquartered in Indianapolis.

Durnil said the center is a "hotbed" of public safety information and officers who need access to information can access it immediately through the center.

"Our awareness is heightened," he said.