New security measures installed at St. Pete Grand Prix

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The twisting, turning track of the Firestone Grand Prix weaves in and around the downtown waterfront. It also uses the runways of Albert Whitted Airport, with post card-worthy scenes beamed around the nation and world.

And for the first time, fans will see a host of security measures designed to keep the three-day event, safe. “The police department, working with our federal, state and local partners, got together and what we believe to be a comprehensive security plan, a reasonable security plan, and one that really addresses kind of the state of where we live today,” Assistant Police Chief Jim Previtera said.

RELATED: Parking, free shuttle info for 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Part of the plan includes TWO new K-9 bomb-detecting dogs. Ajax and Ares will join the department’s other two dogs, who are trained at finding explosives.

“Bomb dogs are a necessity in today’s world based on the attacks we’ve had throughout the nation and the world” Jeremy Krzysiak, a K-9 handler, said.

RELATED: 2016 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg: Fast Facts for Race Fans

Grand Prix arrivals can expect metal detectors, bag checks and more police officers than years past. “Patrons should expect the same security that they would see at a major sporting event. Don’t bring the things you wouldn’t bring to the airport. Ya know, don’t bring those to the Grand Prix,” Previtera said.

The ramped up security isn’t because of any threat. The assistant chief calls it common sense that comes with what’s happening around us and is similar to bag restrictions at football games.

Besides the new gate security, you can also expect to see more officers patrolling downtown, Beach Drive, Struab Park and Tropicana Field.

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