Henrico police, RIR ramp up security for race weekend

Posted at 5:40 PM, Apr 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-22 19:07:22-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- Crews are busy putting the final touches on the sprawling Richmond International Raceway as more than 100,000 NASCAR fans are expected to cheer on their favorite drivers.

The huge event has Henrico police and officials at the track ramping up and fine-tuning security. There will be more officers in uniform and in plain clothes than ever before.

Given the tragedy at last week's Boston Marathon, folks who live nearby, like Thomas Jefferson, think that added security is a good thing.

"You can never have too many officers," Jefferson said. "This day and time you don't know what's going to happen. There's always somebody out there doing something they ought not to be doing."

Neighbors along Pinalto say it's good to look out their windows and see officers gearing up for this weekend's event. In the wake of Boston, they're glad more police will be on hand.

"The race... would be an opportune time for someone to do something, but I don't think so in this area. But then again they didn't think so in that area of Boston. You never can tell, but with the extra police I think everything will be ok," neighbor Diara Spruill said.

Henrico Police Chief Doug Middleton said the department will have some quick response teams. Those crews will be available if something does happen and they will be able to immediately handle the situation.

RIR officials said fans should build in extra time to get through the gates. The standard bag checking protocol will be in place. They also remind fans to text 69050 on their cell phones if they need help, once inside.

"If you need medical attention -- or if you see something that's not right while you're up in the grandstands, text 69050 and that text will go to a central dispatch and we're on it right away," Dennis Bickmeier explained.

Middleton said that if you see something, say something. That's something neighbor Janet Gaines will have no problem doing since she always has her eyes peeled for trouble.

"I'll be watching from inside my house," she said. "Yes, if I see something wrong I'm dialing 911. I know that number by heart."