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Crowds Pose Big Task for Fair's Security Team

Posted October 16, 2007

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— It's almost impossible to walk more than a few feet at the North Carolina State Fair without seeing a law enforcement officer.

This year, more than 400 officers from four agencies – 100 from both the Raleigh Police Department and Wake County Sheriff's Office, 30 from the State Capitol Police and 70 from the State Fairgrounds Police – are working the 10-day event with anywhere from 100 to 150 uniformed and plain-clothes officers on patrol at any given time.

"When you consider the number of security personnel and law enforcement that are here on the grounds at any given time, our numbers outweigh the numbers of any city in America," State Fairgrounds police Chief Joel Keith said.

And with approximately 90,000 people in one place on a typical day, there are going to be people who don't get along, he said.

Keith said that more officers means a quicker response to threats, such as a stabbing late Saturday night, in which one man was stabbed in the abdomen.

"Within just a few seconds, a Raleigh police officer had one of the suspects under arrest in handcuffs, laying face-down on the pavement," Keith said.

Officers use technology, such as surveillance cameras, to monitor the grounds. An on-site communications center and a Highway Patrol mobile command unit gets information out quickly.

They also monitor for disorderly conduct. In the past four days, officers have banned 21 people on a number of violations, including drugs, public intoxication, disorderly conduct and illegal protesting. One person was also kicked out for trying to steal a stuffed zebra. No one asked to leave will be allowed to return to the fair until next year.

Whether it's a lost child, a lost wallet, or someone who has lost his or her way, officers help fairgoers find a sense of security, Keith said.

Fairground police began planning its security strategy several months ago and meet every day during the fair to evaluate what they are doing and what their needs are.

"I'd feel safe enough to walk around all by myself," said Helga Williams, who was at the fair Tuesday with members of her retirement home community. "You feel safe, and if you have any problems, there's an officer nearby."

10 Comments

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  • n2justice Oct 17, 2007

    I attended the fair last evening with my five year old daughter and 22 year old niece for the Kellie Pickler concert. I was very pleased to see all of the law enforcement present inside and outside of the arena. I felt safe indeed. I can't wait until next year! (Our only negative experience was as we were leaving the fair. A very intoxicated young girl was vomiting on the ground at the gate we were trying to pass through.)

  • lynddsy Oct 17, 2007

    i'm glad they are there also. i read in the news that some one was at a gate watching a porn movie and they arrested him. i can remember years ago i worked the fair and as my friend and i were leaving and we were one of the last cars to pull out of that lot; there was a man not watching a movie but, laid back in his seat and very much into himself. was there a cop that night no. all kind of creepy people go there and it's a wonder the police can do as good as they do.

  • drnc Oct 16, 2007

    Our friend took her family to the fair Saturday night. She said so many young males were breaking into the ride lines that they finally left.

  • Jokers Wild II Oct 16, 2007

    I am glad to see some positive news about LEO's. I personally worked a detail at the state fair one year and its one tough assignment to work with so many people coming and going anything can happen. Thanks to Raleigh P.D. and the other departments for making it safe for our families and citizens!

  • poohperson2000 Oct 16, 2007

    It is sad that there is a real need for so many officers out there. I have tickets to Chris Daughtry Saturday, and am going with three other females. I did not realize that the hooligans come ot on Friday and Saturday nights to the fair (what is the purpose??). Anyhow, we usually go during the day, during the week to avoid the crowds, hooligans, and wife beaters..

  • raysson Oct 16, 2007

    I'm glad the patrols are out there cause you'll never know what kinds of creeps be pulling con games and schemes at the fair. Better keep an eye on the young'ems too...there are some freaks out there and they always show up unexpected at the fair.... DON'T GET RIP OFF!!!

  • readerman Oct 16, 2007

    Amen Tax Man!

  • superman Oct 16, 2007

    Sounds like the fair is a great place to recruit new highway patrol officers.

  • houndie Oct 16, 2007

    My daughter and I went to the fair Sunday and wouldn't you know; making our way thru a herd of people she went one way and I the other and she got lost! This is the first time this has ever happened (she is 10 y.o.). I went to an info. booth and they directed me to the expo center where I filled out a report and about that time my cell rang and it was a worker who had found my daughter. What a relief! All kinds of scary thoughts were going through my head and I was afraid my daughter might not remember my cell no. My daughter was crying and upset but I told her she did the right thing by finding an adult with a badge; one she thought she could trust. I hugged the woman and thanked her for taking time to help my daughter. The lady was from Missouri and was very kind.

  • Tax Man Oct 16, 2007

    And a big THANKS to all you LEO's out there protecting us!