April 24, 2013
In response to the Boston bombings, Churchill Downs management has announced new restrictions to be imposed on attendees at the Kentucky Derby next month.
Backpacks, duffel bags, large purses, coolers, camcorders, tripods, cameras with detachable lenses and numerous other items will be now be prohibited at the annual event which seats 50,000 people.
In addition, fans will be subjected to an electronic wand search, according to the Associated Press. Attendees may also have their cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices searched.
“These are not wholesale changes, but these would not have happened without the events that happened” at the Boston Marathon, Churchill Downs spokesman John Asher said last week.
Asher cited the Department of Homeland Security’s slogan, “If You See Something, Say Something.” The DHS has “partnered” with transportation systems, universities, states, cities, sports leagues and local law enforcement to push the mantra.
In 2011, DHS boss Janet Napolitano announced that the program would be expanded to motels, hotels, sports stadiums, and malls.
“We don’t want fans looking over shoulders,” Asher said, “but if they see something suspicious, they should notify personnel at the track. … We’re just hoping that fans are more aware of their surroundings.”
Previous “personnel” at the Kentucky Derby have included military police. In 2009, we posted a news story and a photograph showing soldiers with side arms confronting an unruly fan at the event.