Safety a priority at state fair

Sunday, September 21st 2008, 12:36 am
By: News 9

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - Police have made some changes this year to make sure people are safe and security is tight at the state fair.

One of those changes is surveillance cameras; cameras that allow them to zoom in close on people and keeping a closer eye on people appears to be working.

The Space Needle looks the same, but surveillance cameras have been installed into the needle. Those tiny cameras are giving police access to the fair like never before.

"Our dispatch team monitors them, they tilt, pan, zoom, basically adjust those to look at an area of the fair and when we see suspicious activity we send resources over there to check on it," Captain Patrick Stewart said.

The new cameras were added to the four cameras installed last year, and on the final weekend, when crowds are large, it allows police to see even the smallest problems.

"We use them to monitor the fair to look for hot spots, especially as the night progresses, as the midway gets crowded," Capt. Stewart said.

The cameras are helping police stop problems before they start. In past years, crimes like car burglaries have been a problem, but this year has been quieter and fairgoers are noticing.

"I didn't see anything going on, nobody getting into fights or anything," Jason McGee said.

Police contribute that not just to the cameras in the sky, but the extra security on the ground.

"You are going to see police everywhere, not only with the Oklahoma City Police Department, but the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Department and a lot of volunteer organizations as well," Capt. Stewart said.

The extra efforts have not gone unnoticed. Fairgoers said they feel safer.

"I've seen quite a few police around and no real problems," Pat Scabuzzo said.

The biggest problems police said they deal with every year is out in the parking lot with incidents like car jackings. This year, the added measures have allowed authorities to cut down on those crimes significantly.