Tight Security at July 4th Fests to Counter Terror Fears, Gun Violence

NEW YORK (Reuters) -
Fireworks are set off during Canton Ohio’s Monumental Fourth Celebration at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, July 3, 2016, in Canton, Ohio. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP)
Fireworks are set off during Canton Ohio’s Monumental Fourth Celebration at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday. (Bob Rossiter/The Canton Repository via AP)

The country celebrates July Fourth on Monday with parades, hot-dog eating contests and fireworks shows amid heightened security because of concerns about terrorism in New York and timeworn holiday gun violence in Chicago.

Millions of Americans will mark independence from Britain with festive celebrations and with colonial-era costumed actors reading the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives in Washington.

With the holiday taking place days after the attack at Istanbul’s international airport, the New York Police Department will deploy eight new canines known as vapor wake dogs, trained to sniff out body-worn explosives, Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Friday.

The department’s human presence this holiday will be increased by nearly 2,000 new officers who graduated Friday from the New York City Police Academy.

“As we always have the capacity in New York to put out a lot of resources, that’s the name of the game, in dealing with terrorist threats,” Bratton said.

Police in Chicago, which has seen a spike in gun murders this year, announced a stepped-up presence with more than 5,000 officers on patrol over the long weekend, traditionally one of the year’s most violent, said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. Local media reported on Friday that 24 people had been shot over the past 24 hours, three fatally.

Dry weather forecasts across the country thrilled fireworks lovers, although some spots in Michigan have been so rain-starved that pyrotechnic shows were canceled in a handful of communities near Detroit to prevent fires.