Raleigh works to secure 'soft targets' from attacks

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Police in the Triangle are on alert to make sure public venues remain safe.

Downtown Raleigh's City Plaza is chock-full of what security analysts describe as soft targets: The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the bevy of open-air restaurants, not to mention the hotels, are places built for visitors to come in and out and feel welcome. That also makes these places the most vulnerable.

Hours after the bombing at Manchester Arena, the FBI hosted a conference call with law enforcement across the U.S. Police in the Triangle are being urged to be vigilant, while authorities work to identify potentially vulnerable open venues.

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"It can be a mall, it can be an arena, it can be a school, a church, a hospital," Christina Peterson said in describing so-called soft targets. Peterson is president of Raleigh-based security consulting firm Protus 3.

Peterson's firm advises companies on hardening their security. But she knows it's tougher for soft targets to strike the right balance and not keep people away.

Complete coverage of the Manchester Arena explosion

"(Soft targets) don't typically have a lot of security protocols. Now, some of them do and the public don't even realize it," Peterson said. "I mean why would we want our establishments to be like Fort Knox?"

But after Manchester, PNC Arena, Raleigh's largest indoor arena is speeding up its plan to deploy bomb-detecting K9s for every event.

"They feel a due diligence to protect the people that are coming out to those locations and really that's the idea, our services," said Geoff Beckwith with Stealth Vigilance, the security company supplying the specialized K9 officers.

Peterson stresses the public has a role to play too: situational awareness.

"Knowing where those exits are, knowing that you can exit out those stores in the back," Peterson said. "It's the same whether you're in an arena, a church, a school."

Meantime Stealth Vigilance has seen a steady increase in requests for its K9s. Reps says more and more venues across the Triangle are hiring their dogs to sniff out bombs, drugs and guns.

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