Police preparing security plan for Unity March

Spokane Police are pulling out the stops to make sure this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March is safe for the large crowd expected at the event.

The police department has ordered up extra security this year after Kevin Harpham planted a bomb along the parade route last year. Department leaderships is promising to have a uniformed officer just about every block of the parade route making sure someone hasn’t planted any devices along the route.

The security changes come after Harpham attempted to remote detonate a bomb he built along the march route. The bomb was found before the march started, the bomb squad safely recovered the device and the Unity March took an alternate route.

The march route will remain the same this year, but police are adding increased security as a precaution.

“We want people to feel safe. That’s where the police department comes in and we want people to know that the police department is going to do everything we can to keep people safe,” Lieutenant Joe Walker with the Spokane Police Department said.

Spokane’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has not developed any specific threats against the march but officers will be searching potential hiding spots for explosives. Unattended trucks and cars will be towed and suspicious bags will be x-rayed on the spot.

“You probably heard it from last year, if you see something, say something and that’s why it will be nice to have all those officers down here. Somebody should be able to find a police officer fairly easy,” Lt. Walker said.

Organizers are actually expecting a bigger turnout for the Unity March this year; they know if the crowds stay away, they’ll be handing Kevin Harpham a belated victory behind bars.

“I think our region gets a bad name from the actions and beliefs of a few and this is our opportunity as a community to show who we are and what our values are,” Liz Moore with the Peace and Justice Action League said.

Martin Luther King Day is a school holiday and so principals and teachers have been urging their students attend the march, with parents’ permission. That’s one reason why the Spokane School District has offered up its own security team to provide extra eyes and ears during the march next Monday.