Cops tout Bay to Breakers security plan 

click to enlarge Roughly 100,000 people are expected at this year’s Bay to Breakers race. Local and federal officials, as well as extra video surveillance, will be on hand for the colorful San Francisco tradition. - JOSEPH SCHELL/2011 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Joseph Schell/2011 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Roughly 100,000 people are expected at this year’s Bay to Breakers race. Local and federal officials, as well as extra video surveillance, will be on hand for the colorful San Francisco tradition.

Video cameras will capture the salmon running upstream at the Hayes Street Hill, and additional surveillance posted at the start and finish of Sunday’s Bay to Breakers race will help ensure the 102nd running of the San Francisco institution is safe, Police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday.

Race security is front and center as The City prepares to host its first major public event — and one of its most high-profile — since the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon. About 100,000 people — 70,000 of them spectators along the route — are expected to attend the race.

Law enforcement officers from six agencies, including the FBI, also are expected to be on hand.

Police officials have been in “conversations with Boston pretty much since” April 15, said Suhr, who noted in a nationally televised interview Wednesday that it was video surveillance that led to the identification of the two bombing suspects.

Those lessons will be applied throughout The City on Sunday. Feeds from the cameras — provided by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center — will be monitored continuously throughout the race, with footage available for review later in case of a crime.  

A ban on large backpacks is a recent addition to this year’s race. Small drawstring backpacks big enough for shoes and a change of clothes will be allowed.

The Boston bombers allegedly set down backpacks containing homemade bombs in shrapnel-filled pressure cookers that were then detonated near the finish line.

Other longstanding race rules — such as the bans on alcohol and nudity, and the requirement that all race participants be registered and wearing numbered race bibs — are still in effect.

Extra police from San Mateo; San Jose; Walnut Creek; West Sacramento; the FBI; and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also will be at the Police Department’s De Haro Street operations center to assist with any emergency that may arise.

Nearly every available San Francisco police resource, from the bike unit to the equestrian unit to the department’s bomb technicians, will be deployed along the racecourse.

“At this event, people want to see police officers in uniform,” Suhr said. “And they will — lots of them.”

Security considerations extend beyond law enforcement. The Department of Public Works has replaced 60 waste bins along the route with trash receptacles with transparent liners that allow police and the public to see what’s inside, according to spokeswoman Rachel Gordon.

These precautions come at no cost to city taxpayers. All security costs are passed on to race organizers, said Race Director Angela Fang.

Despite all the police protection, the public is its own best weapon against terror, Suhr said. Anyone who sees anything suspicious is urged to talk to police.

“If you see something, for God’s sake, say something,” Suhr said.

2012 homicide still unsolved

Police are still looking for a suspect in a post-Bay to Breakers homicide in Golden Gate Park last year.

Stephen Martin of Santa Clara was beaten to death in the park’s Sharon Meadow area after last year’s race, and police said Thursday the investigation is still open.

Martin, who was dressed up as a troll doll, was attacked after a confrontation broke out between him and his friends and a group of men wearing red-and-white 49ers jerseys. Prior to the incident, photographs had been taken showing the two groups partying together.

Police Officer Albie Esparza said the department is still reviewing the photographs and trying to figure out which man is the suspect. He said the investigation presents two major challenges: determining who the suspect is and then building a case against that person.

Despite the obstacles, Esparza said police are optimistic.

“It’s only a matter of time,” he said.

Anyone with information on the attack can call the Police Department at (415) 553-1145 or anonymously at (415) 575-4444. Information also can be texted to TIP411, with “SFPD” in the subject line.

Muni is offering special express service for footrace

For revelers and runners in the Bay to Breakers race, the euphoria of finishing the event usually wears off as soon as they realize they are stuck at Ocean Beach.

This year, however, Muni will be able to make the trip back toward the starting line a little less tedious with its amped-up service package Sunday. The agency plans to run a downtown bus service in which passengers will travel on an express route from 47th Avenue and Fulton Street to Sansome and Bush streets downtown. The service, set to operate between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., will be the quickest way to get from the beach to downtown.

It will be complemented by Muni’s express buses on the 5-Fulton and N-Judah lines. The 5-Fulton will run from 47th Avenue and Fulton Street to Eighth and Market streets, while the N-Judah bus will run on the south side of Golden Gate Park, traveling from La Playa and Judah streets to First and Mission streets.

But like most special offers, this one comes at a price. Passengers with a monthly Muni pass who want to hop on the express lines will still have to shell out $8. Cash fares will cost $12 for adults, $10 for youths and senior citizens and $8 for
disabled passengers.

Otherwise, the regular $2 Muni fare will only get you a seat on the 5-Fulton local line, which makes all the stops between 47th Avenue and downtown.

Passengers can purchase cash fares on the Muni express vehicles or have the amount debited from their Clipper cards. The cash fares will have transfers valid until 5 p.m., while the Clipper cards will have the normal 90-minute transfer window.

More than 25 Muni lines will be rerouted or delayed by street closures related to the Sunday morning race.

Along with the traffic and transit changes from Bay to Breakers, two lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge will be closed between 6 and 9:30 a.m. for the Tour of California bike race.

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Paul Gackle

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