April 15, 2013, marked the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. The 2013 marathon began in the town of Hopkinton, MA, with around 23,000 participants. At approximately 2:49 that afternoon, with more than 5,600 runners still in the race, two pressure-cooker bombs—packed with shrapnel and hidden in backpacks among crowds of marathon-watchers—exploded within seconds of each other near the finish line along Boylston Street.
An investigation involving more than 1,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel was immediately launched. Sergeant Chris Connolly, having 17 years’ experience on the Bomb Squad and 31 years’ service on the Boston Police Department, was the supervisor that day. Sgt Connolly told us of two instances where OV Security, formerly OpenVision, was utilized to help with their investigations.
In the first scenario, the FBI received information in the days following the bombing that led them to investigate a group of men living in Revere, MA. FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians (SBAT) were on scene to x-ray several bags and packages. Mass State Police and the Boston Police Department responded by utilizing three OV Security units to quickly scan loose packages and bags in the surrounding area and successfully identify that the bags did not contain any harmful or IED components.
OV Security was especially helpful in scanning bags and packages in tight areas, such as the side of a wall, where it would be too difficult to shoot through or position a different x-ray system. In these situations, they turned the OV Security sideways, parallel with the wall, to get the shots that were needed to clear the bags.
In the four and a half days following the marathon, the Boston Police Department responded to nearly 200 calls, many reporting suspicious bags. Sgt. Connolly told us that utilizing OV Security at the time was critical because it allowed them to quickly scan items for threat /no threat and move on to the next location once no threat was determined. OV Security was also useful in instances where there was a lot of foot traffic, such as Faneuil Hall Marketplace because they could use it to assess threat/no threat without requiring evacuation.
The second instance where OV Security was used was April 18. On April 18, there was a shootout in Watertown, where one of the Tsarnaev brothers momentarily escaped. That evening, the Honda Civic that the Tsarnaev brothers were operating during the escape was found downrange of the shooting. Boston Police Department bomb techs identified a bag inside this vehicle. They were able to rig the bag out of the car and utilize the OV Security on the bag to clear it for no IED components or power sources. This allowed them to safely use a high definition digital x-ray system to identify a transmitter for one of the devices the Tsarnaev brothers used to detonate the bomb on Boylston Street remotely.
In the security industry, the situation dictates what devices are used. When we asked Sgt.Connolly what circumstances he would recommend using the OV Security for, he said,
Outside of the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Boston Police Department uses OV Security when a K-9 is not available, and in situations where they need to screen multiple bags, such as events held at TD Garden or Fenway Park. In these situations, OV Security is preferred over a nano because you can run it over 4-5 bags at a time and move people along more efficiently.