by: Rachel Stockman Updated:ATLANTA —
The FBI says they will be keeping a closer eye on upcoming large events in the Atlanta area in light of what happened at the Boston Marathon this week.
“The added vigilance might require us to look at something a little bit closer then we otherwise would have,” FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett explained to Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
More than 200,000 people are expected at the Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park, starting Friday. Event organizers said they’ve been in close contact with local, state, and federal law enforcement, including the FBI.
“In light of what has happened, we are reviewing what we were doing, and if we need to change anything” said festival Executive Director Brian Hill.
Hill would not go into any specifics about new measures they are taking for safety reasons.
“I can assure people we are taking every measure possible for a safe event,” Hill said.
The FBI Atlanta Field Office has resources dedicated to special event security.
“We have people that work as a full-time job here in the Atlanta field office that provide security and coordinate the threat assessments during the lead ups to these events,” Emmett told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
While the Dogwood Festival has fewer participants than other large recent and upcoming events, like the NCAA Final Four or the Peachtree Road Race, federal agents will still be extra vigilant.
“If you have a festival like the Dogwood Festival where you have multiple entrances and exits, that is going to be something from a physical security standpoint that they (event organizers) have to address,” said FBI agent Emmett.
Richard Dorleans said he plans to attend the event, but is still a bit nervous about being at a large public gathering.
“I’m always looking behind me to see who is behind me, looking around for any packages- anything that looks out of place -- I’m actually looking for stuff,” Dorleans told Stockman.
Event organizers said visitors should be vigilant, but they shouldn’t let fear stop them from enjoying the event.
“I think if anything in our country you just have to have a level of trust,” said Jan O’Neal, who is one of the participants.