Tighter security likely at auto shows

Organizers of the Tokyo, Detroit and Chicago auto shows will review their security procedures in the aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks.

Officials associated with the shows expressed concerns about the safety of attendees. Additionally, the Tokyo and Detroit events have the added responsibility of handling large numbers of foreign auto executives and journalists.

A spokesman for the Japan Motor Industrial Federation, the group that sponsors the Tokyo Motor Show, said the organization will meet with law enforcement agencies to discuss whether the show needs to be heavily guarded this year. The show opens Oct. 24 to the press and Oct. 27 to the public.

The federation also is collecting information on the Frankfurt auto show's security procedures and its response to the U.S. terrorist attacks.

On Wednesday, Sept. 12, the second press day at the Frankfurt show, two-man police teams dressed in fatigues were added to the show's security detail. One of the show's exhibit halls - housing Ford, Nissan, Renault and Volkswagen displays - was evacuated for 30 minutes that day because of bomb threat.

Bill Demmer, co-chairman of Detroit's North American International Auto Show, said: "Security has always been a priority issue for us. I think for any public event now it will be a heightened issue."

Demmer said the response at the Frankfurt show will help shape the strategy of the show's sponsor, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. Among the options is the installation of metal detectors. Press events begin Jan. 6, 2002, and the show opens to the public Jan. 12.

Representatives of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association, sponsors of the Chicago Auto Show, will meet with that city's police department next month to discuss security.

Press events for the Chicago show begin Feb. 6, two days before the public opening Feb. 8.

Paul Brian, the association's director of communications, said: "We put a hellish number of people through this building. It concerns us. It always has concerned us."

Staff Reporter Yuzo Yamaguchi contributed to this report

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