ASPEN, Colo. -- Hundreds of volunteers needed for the USA Pro Challenge cycling race in Aspen will get mandatory training that includes reacting to terrorism alerts in an effort to prevent an attack such as the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Training for the event that begins Aug. 19 will include recognizing suspicious packages and reporting concerns, Aspen Police Department spokeswoman Blair Weyer said.
The training is designed to help people be vigilant but not over-reactive, she said.
It will be provided by the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, also known as The Cell. The nonprofit, privately funded anti-terrorism center is a subsidiary of Denver-based Mizel Museum, founded by businessman and philanthropist Larry Mizel, the Aspen Times reported Friday (http://tinyurl.com/l6z3xss ).
The program is billed as a free effort designed to provide citizens with basic tools to recognize and help prevent terrorism and criminal activity within their communities.
The center said it will ensure the civil liberties protected by the U.S. Constitution are preserved.
Melanie Pearlman, executive director of the organization, said Friday her group works with state and federal agencies to train the public how to recognize suspicious behavior and how to alert the proper authorities. She said the program was started two years ago, but gained recognition after the Boston bombings. She said participants have included ushers at baseball games, the Boy Scouts of America, and other organizations that hold public events.
Weyer said Colorado State Patrol troopers were among those set to receive training from The Cell.
The Pro Challenge has enlisted more than 150 volunteers for the event that includes a circuit race in the Aspen area by the top male cyclists in the world. There are more than 100 volunteers signed up for Aug. 20, when the racers will leave Aspen and climb Independence Pass.
Linda Gerdenich, co-chairwoman of the volunteer committee, said scores more volunteers are needed for both race days and pre-race organizing.
She said cycling racing fans from as far as California, New Mexico and Connecticut have volunteered, though most are from the Roaring Fork Valley.
The Cell: www.thecell.org
Information from: The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/