Security Plans in Place for Boston's Open Streets Event

In light of the mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, security for large outdoor events like this is heightened

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Come Sunday busy Centre Street in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood will become a pedestrian mall for almost a-mile-and-a-half. It's called Open Streets and Mayor Michelle Wu has expanded it this summer.  

"As we're testing this out first on Centre Street and then Blue Hill Ave. and then Dorchester Ave. we'll learn about what works so we can expand this in other neighborhoods as well. but the goal is to make it a safe space," Wu said.

In light of the mass shooting at a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, security for events like this is heightened.  Todd McGhee is a security consultant and former state trooper.

"Copycat crimes are always a concern especially within 24-72 hours, within a week's time of the major incident," he explained.

The suspect in the Illinois shootings climbed to a rooftop and fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd.  McGhee said the Massachusetts State Police has increased its supply of drones and he expects they'll be over Centre Street on Sunday.

"And there's a good chance that you'll see that deployment as an additional resource for the security operation being deployed," he said.

McGhee said a crucial part of keeping the event safe is the people attending being alert and letting law enforcement know if they see something out of the ordinary. 

Some we spoke with said the Highland Park tragedy does make them think twice.

Tamyka Sanford lives in Jamaica Plain.

"I probably would attend just because I don't think about those kind of things.  I just want to enjoy life but every time it happens you have to be just a little bit more alert.  So, yeah, it does concern me a little bit," she said.

"I think about it but I'm not going to let it... not going to let the terrorists win and I'm gonna still come out here with my kids and I'm still going to enjoy this and still gonna be a good neighbor and we just have to keep carrying on," Andrew Haile said.

Others, like Nancy Simonds, said they are not worried.

"Because I'm not someone who automatically assumes that there'll be something like... it's a rare occurrence given the population and also JP is a safe place."

Despite some concerns, businesses are looking forward to Open Streets.

Jason Gregoricus heads the JP Business and Professional Association

Safety's always a concern right and it's foremost in all our mines. Of course, it's a concern, however, you cannot operate from a position of fear, you always have to operate from a position of what's best for everyone and go forward," he said.

He believes the event will be a big boost for businesses in the area still recovering from the pandemic.

"It is going to be so fun," he said, thanking the mayor for planning the event. "It is magnificent and we embrace it fully and if you don't embrace it there's something terribly wrong with you."

Boston Police said they did not want to share the specifics of their security plans.

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