After bombings, how safe are our public places?

After bombings, how safe are our public places? »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. – Tensions mounted across the country and locally after the Boston Marathon bombings and led to the question: How safe are we?

We took a look at security at Portland’s most frequented public spots: Pioneer Square and the Portland waterfront.

Both spots have aspects that can help or hurt police patrolling during major events.

“Pioneer Courthouse Square can be a tricky public space,” said Portland Police Bureau Sgt. Pete Simpson.

The advantages include that it’s easy for police to shut down the square by blocking off the surrounding streets.

The disadvantages? Tall buildings surround the entire square and there are plenty of small hiding places.

“There’s paper boxes. There’s garbage cans,” Simpson said. “You’ve got the fountain. You’ve got alcove.”

“You’ve got glass everywhere around it, so if you were to have some sort of explosion there, you’d have glass that’s gonna rain down on a lot of people,” Simpson added.

Like Pioneer Square, Portland’s waterfront park has pros and cons when it comes to keeping safety measures in place.

For instance, its size is a benefit to police.

“Overall, it’s a pretty safe area because it is so wide open,” Simpson said.

Yet the park’s sprawling nature is also a curse.

“It goes the whole downtown length, so if we were to have a major incident and we had to shut it down, it would require a lot more resources,” Simpson said.

In light of the Boston bombings, Simpson said police are reviewing their current protocol in patrolling large public events.

He added, though, it’s impossible to prepare for every possible danger.

“We can’t eliminate risk,” he said. “That’s the world we live in the United States with a free society.”