Preparations underway to prevent terrorism in Austin

Preparations underway to prevent terrorism in Austin

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It's been more than six months since two bombs tore through the crowds at the Boston marathon.

Security experts talked Wednesday about preventing something similar from happening in Austin.

Austin is considered a prime target when big events like the Formula 1 race draw thousands of people to town.

Security is being ramped up more than ever as authorities prepare for the unexpected.

An average game at Darrel K. Royal stadium attracts close to 100,000 people.

If a terroristic threat happened, would we be ready? That's what Austin police tried to answer today while getting advice from those who have gone through the situation before.

Security preparations for big events in Austin don't just take weeks, they take months.

The Texas versus Oklahoma State game falls on the same weekend as the Formula 1 race. With so many people all in one location, it's a concern for law enforcement.

"There are no specific threats but we all know that sporting events and events where there's going to be large groups of people are always a potential. We are going to have a large footprint, not just at Formula One, at COTA, but throughout the city," APD Chief Art Acevedo said.

To help in the effort, the Austin Police Department has decided to increase the presence of explosive ordinance detection dogs. Learning from other law enforcement, as well as state and federal leaders who have dealt with terroristic events before is also proving to be a valuable tool.

"The local PD's know the streets, they know they're the eyes and ears and they know their communities so in the case of Boston for instance, even though they are on the task force they are not consulted about Mr. Tamverlan," said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul.

McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He says keeping local law enforcement informed and involved can really make a difference along with help from the community.

"If you see something wrong and if you see someone who is mentally ill who may have a weapon, who may cause people harm... I think you have a responsibility to call it to the authorities' attention," McCaul said.

Citizen action is believed to be one of the best ways to stop these acts of violence and social media is a tool police encourage. Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis says it helped lead them to the bombers.

"We got so much information our computers crashed, the FBI computers crashed. We had to go back to Twitter and Facebook to reload those pictures. But the bottom line is, people stepped up, this crowd sourcing that they talk about really worked for us and significant evidence came from that," Davis said.

To put more eyes on the street, APD is also relying heavily on technology. They have a public safety camera system that continues to grow, helping them solve crimes within minutes.

"We know that there's a tremendous number of cameras in the private sector and right now we're working to try to get those private cameras in public places tied into our system so we can use those non-governmental cameras as a force multiplier for us," Acevedo said.

Something Acevedo hopes will eventually disrupt, prevent and discourage not just the potential for a terroristic attack but also everyday crime.

There are some challenges trying to be tackled nationwide; such as tracking information or threats made on social media.

This brings up a lot of privacy issues regarding what is acceptable for the government to know. Authorities would also like to see some type of database for mental illness, so it could be used before issuing a gun permit to someone.

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