4th Of July Means Lower Security Levels This Year

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Fewer police officers, bomb-sniffing dogs, and security fences are expected this weekend in what law enforcement officials call a return to a more normal holiday, the Associated Press reports. Strained budgets are limiting police presence and security tactics in many places. Other cities are not bringing in extra officers because the federal terror alert is expected to stay at yellow, the middle level on a five-color scale. Police in St. Louis will cordon off the Gateway Arch, but they won’t bring back a fence to stop terrorists from swimming up the Mississippi River. In Oregon, Portland police and state troopers plan no special precautions beside the extra patrols they always deploy on holidays. In Des Moines, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Vaughn said, “It’s pretty much business as usual.”

Even in New York, there will be fewer officers on the streets this year than last. Instead, more interlocking metal barriers will control crowds, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. Intelligence analysis has revealed no particular threats over the holiday weekend. There will still be about 7,000 officers on duty, slightly fewer than last year but about 4,200 more than on a normal weekend. Overtime for patrol officers and special counter-terror units could cost the city $700,000 each day of the holiday weekend.

In Niagara Falls, N.Y., budget constraints will keep staffing at normal levels over the weekend, Deputy Chief John DeMarco said. State police will be out in force around the falls because of an influx of tourists, not terror threats.

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