Fair Patrons Feel Safer With Stepped Up Security

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Before the sun even set on the midway, crowds were already pouring into the Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds.  Thousands passed through the ticket booth buying wristbands so they could ride the excitement all night long.

Amongst the crowd was a lot of safety measures.  Police could be found almost everywhere talking to fairgoers while being on standby for the worst.

"When I got out here, I did see more policemen.  I feel safe.  This time I did come a little earlier though, so I can get out, just to be safe.  I didn't want to stay too late," said Queen Thompson.

Meanwhile, fairgoers like Raena Elliott remember the incident at last year's fair when several fights broke out at once.

"I wouldn't want to be in that again, and risk actually being hurt," said Elliott.

That's what police want to do is prevent anyone from getting hurt.  Outside the south gates of the fairgrounds , the Jonesboro Police Mobile Field Force was staging and practicing their tactics, just in case a situation should arise.

"We want everybody to come out to the fair and have a good time, but we also want to be prepared in case something goes wrong, like it did last year.  We want to have a special response team here in a quick and orderly fashion, rather than bringing officers off the street, who are getting bogged down in traffic, and having a hard time getting here," said the unit's trainer Owen Smith.

However, you shouldn't see this group out in full attire unless the worst should happen.  Fair Manager Jerry Reece says it's his hopes they will never be needed.

"Our security staff has been doubled.  I think they've been able to anticipate situations that could arise, and cut those off on the front end," said Reece.

And when the fair is really all about the fun, nobody should have to feel afraid to enter the midway.

"I feel safe, and it looks like there is a police presence around here.  So, I feel safer with it," said Kerry Summitt.

Again JPD's Mobile Field Force is only at the fair as a precautionary measure, and hope that people will have fun, without needing their involvement.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.