Police escort Jewish athletes in bus excursion to Washington

August 15, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Access to the Baltimore Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was temporarily interrupted yesterday so buses loaded with young Jewish athletes participating in the JCC Maccabi Games could visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington.

State troopers and police from Baltimore and Baltimore County, along with FBI agents, escorted the athletes in the second show of security that literally stopped traffic this week.

Beltway ramps were closed from Towson to Lansdowne for a few minutes at a time as groups of buses drove to Washington and returned, Baltimore County police said.

The security precautions created no major traffic back-ups, said Sgt. Vickie Warehime, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman. "They went in smaller groups so there wouldn't be traffic problems," she said.

About 50 buses carrying about 2,000 athletes competing in the games were escorted in groups by a motorcade of police to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and into Washington.

Earlier this week, the athletes were escorted to a party at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover in a caravan that disrupted traffic. Officers were perched on Beltway overpasses with rifles or binoculars, and several police helicopters flew overhead.

Security has been tight for the games, which began Sunday and end tonight with a closing ceremony scheduled at Towson University's Towson Center.

County police have increased patrols, asked officers not to take leave, set up several command posts and have requested assistance from nearly every nearby law enforcement agency and security force. Officials said the precautions were not the result of a threat against the event or participants.

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