Authorities remind people celebrating 4th of July to stay vigilant

Police urge public to report odd or unusual behavior immediately

Kristen Johanson
July 03, 2018 - 4:43 pm

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Just one day after the FBI announced the arrest of a man planning to possibly bomb Cleveland and Philadelphia this summer, police are reminding people to stay vigilant during Fourth of July festivities.  

Patrol officers and federal authorities will be on foot, on bikes and in the air monitoring holiday events along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and Independence Mall for Independence Day.

"You don't always see some of our assets, and that's by design," said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Currently, there are no credible threats to the city, Ross added. The main concern as of now is the heat wave.

"The city is setting up misting stations along the Parkway and also setting up palates of water," explained Deputy Police Commissioner Dennis Wilson. Water bottles are allowed into the Wawa Welcome America Party festivities, but no hard coolers or alcohol. There will also be security screenings to get into ticketed areas.

Each year on July 4, the majority of calls that come in are for missing kids — or adults. Wilson said the letter-number grid signs set up along the Parkway are an easy way to find each other. 

"It gets really crowded, it gets really hard to see cross streets. It’s really good to be able to look up and say, 'I am right at B-26,' " he said.

Fireworks are a major problem, too, as they are illegal without the proper license. Wilson said users can be "arrested for selling, possessing or using."

Authorities are also encouraging the public to report anything they see that may be odd or unusual. 

The FBI arrested Philadelphia native Demetrius Pitts in Ohio over the weekend. They said he was planning a possible attack in Cleveland and another in Philly on July 4.

"There is nothing to suggest that this individual was working in conjunction with anyone else," Ross said.

An investigation into Pitts came after a someone from the public called in with a tip — a reminder, Ross said, to call police if something seems off.

"We are hoping to leverage the eyes and ears of those folks that are out there enjoying themselves," he said, "but if you see something that just doesn't sit right with you, let us vet that."