• Police increase patrols for Atlanta sports, cultural events

    By: Tony Thomas


    ATLANTA - Atlanta city leaders say they've increased police patrols at major venues around the city for at least the next several days.

    In a statement, Police Chief George Turner said, "Atlanta police officers will be visible, vigilant and prepared."

    “The heads of the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have all been in close contact with each other and with their partner federal law enforcement agencies,” a city news release said. “At this time, they have been informed that there is no intelligence to suggest the city of Atlanta is a target."

    The increased patrols were evident at Turner Field and Phillips Arena Tuesday night. The Braves and Hawks played at home, one day after the bombings in Boston.

    As fans entered Turner Field, stadium security checked pockets and bags even more than normal. Some fans admit they almost did not go to the game.

    "Yeah, it's in the back of our mind, right?" said season ticket holder Linda Hayes. "Tonight, that this could happen with a large group of people having a good time -- it could happen. There's a lot of weirdos out there."

    But she did come, partly because of the increased security. Throughout the stadium Atlanta police were visible everywhere. There was a concerted effort by the city to increase patrols at large gatherings, although officials said there's been no verified threat.

    There was a scare, however. The bomb squad blew up a suspicious device in a trash can outside Turner Field a few hours before game time. Police said it proved to be harmless.

    Police also closely watched Phillips Arena on Tuesday night as the Hawks held a moment of silence for the Boston victims.

    "Our thoughts and prayers go out to families affected by this tragedy," said the public address announcer after asking the fans to pause for the moment of silence.

    At both venues, fans were determined to take their own small stand.

    "I think it should be business as usual, enjoying the family, that's why I brought my kids out to the game," said Hawks fan Bryant Burns.

    The city noted the increased patrols will continue with other sports and cultural events being held throughout the week and into the weekend, including a Taylor Swift concert at Philips Arena on Friday night, the Georgia Tech spring football game and fireworks on Friday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Dogwood Festival at Piedmont Park and the Sweetwater 420 Fest in Candler Park.

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