Cities upping July 4th security in light of thwarted terror attack

CLEVELAND- Some local cities are beefing security ahead of the July 4th holiday after a suspected terror plot was thwarted in Cleveland.

Monday, the Cleveland FBI announced the arrest of 48-year-old Demetrius Pitts from Maple Heights, a man they say was planning an Independence Day attack downtown using a van filled with explosives.

“I mean we always increase our security posture for special events,” said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. “Does this heighten everyone's awareness of what’s going on, of course it does.”

Cleveland police will be increasing the number of officers patrolling the city and especially for the fireworks display at Edgewater Park Wednesday night.

“Extra units will be deployed in a uniformed and in an undercover capacity,” said Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia. “Safety is our number one concern.”

There will be a zero tolerance for individuals setting off their own fireworks or illegal celebratory gunfire.

People can bring water or snacks to help cope with the heat and they’re encouraged to have a safety plan, with an established meeting point in case families get separated.

“Kids can get lost in a crowd very quickly,” said Sgt. Ciaccia. “And let them know the best thing is to notify someone in uniform.”

Portions of the Shoreway will also be closed in both directions shortly after 9 p.m., so people are encouraged to take public transportation. The greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and Lyft are partnering to help out. (For information click here.)

Although the terror threat happened in Cleveland, over in nearby Lakewood, Mayor Mike Summers also announced Tuesday extra restrictions at Lakewood Park for the city's fireworks event, with more officers on duty.

Portions of the park will be off-limits and all cars must be gone from the parking lot by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

“Public safety is a very high priority in a community like Lakewood,” said Mayor Summers. “We take nothing for granted and we assume nothing in terms of what might or might not happen here.”

Mayor Summers says their security plan is continually evolving based on local and world events.

People are welcome to come and enjoy the fireworks, but he says in light of the threat, all backpacks and coolers are subject to search.

But most importantly, law enforcement and officials in both cities say they need the publics help.

If they see something suspicious people must report it immediately.