Cumberland Police Chief John Desmarais waves to spectators during the annual Arnold Mills 4th of July parade last year. Local police departments say there will be more officers on duty at Independence Day events this year.
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and the recent arrests of two suspects for plotting a terrorist attack in Canada, there will be increased security measures and extra police officers on hand at many of the Blackstone Valleyâs larger July 4th public events, including todayâs parades in Glocester, Cumberland and Bristol.
The Glocester Police Department will deploy seven additional police officers at the 87th Annual Ancients & Horribles Parade, which steps off at 4 p.m. The parade is the townâs first major public gathering since the Boston bombings and the incident in Canada where a man and woman were arrested for attempting to leave pressure cooker bombs at British Columbia's provincial legislature on Canada Day.
The pair has been charged with conspiracy, facilitating a terrorist activity and making an explosive device.
There is no specific threat of terrorism here in Rhode Island.
âWithout getting into specifics, we have taken measures to enhance security and the number of officers manning the parade will increase,â Glocester Captain Joseph V. Mattera said Wednesday.
Mattera says the stepped-up security is not only a response to the April 15 Marathon bombings, but also an ongoing road construction project in Glocester (Route 44 and Route 102) that could pose problems for parade-goers looking for a place to park today.
âOur concern is the parking and what weâre telling people who want to come to the parade is to plan ahead and be prepared to park a little further away than usual,â said Mattera, adding that attendees are also reminded that alcohol is not allowed at the parade.
Mattera says people attending the Glocester parade or any other public July 4th event this weekend should be vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
Joyce A. Hindle Koutsogiane, chairwoman of the Annual Arnold Mills Parade in Cumberland, which steps off at 11 a.m. on Nate Whipple Highway, says parade security is something the Parade Committee takes seriously every year and is the reason why there is a member of the Cumberland Police Department who sits on the committee. This year that member is Captain George Stansfield.
âAs for security at this yearâs parade, I can say with all certainty that the Cumberland Police Department is on top of everything,â Koutsogiane said. âIt is our understanding that the Police Department will have as many officers at the parade as possible.â
There will also be extra security at the Bristol Parade, the oldest July 4th parade in the country, where the Police Department is planning to deploy more uniform and plain clothes police officers this year.
Providence public safety officials are also on beefing up security this holiday weekend.
âWe are planning for additional security as a result of the recent terrorist attack in Boston,â said Steven M. ParĂ©, Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of Providence. âAt this time, we are not aware of any specific, credible information indicating a threat to the 2013 Fourth of July celebrations in Providence.â
Rhode Island State Police will also be increasing patrols today and throughout the weekend.
State Police Supt. Steven G. O'Donnell said as part of the ongoing "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" enforcement period, there will be additional patrols targeting speeders, aggressive drivers, seat belt violators and especially impaired drivers.
âThe Rhode Island State Police will be vigilant during this time to keep the streets and highways free of those who choose to endanger all of us by drinking and driving and disobeying traffic laws,â OâDonnell said. âThere will be zero tolerance for those who choose to drive while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and or drugs. These individuals will be arrested.â
(Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7)