Security organizers with the long-standing Carnation Festival in Wheat Ridge are making some changes following several violent crimes this summer across the nation, including the mass shooting that left seven people dead at a Fourth of July Parade in Highland Park, Illinois.
"When I first started it was more about just the community coming out and enjoying it. Unfortunately, with some of the things that have happened in and around the country, law enforcement has had to change their stance," said Commander Lucas Hunt with the Wheat Ridge Police Department.
Hunt has been in law enforcement for 35 years and has worked on countless events similar to the Carnation Festival.
Increased police presence is one of several changes to this year's festival attendees will notice.
"They're going to notice more officer presence. Our officers are usually in a traffic vest, so they are visible to the public," Hunt continued. "They'll notice some of the equipment - this year they may notice a tactical vehicle or two, we've partnered with some of our neighboring agencies to bring additional personnel, tactical equipment. They may notice the presence of jersey barriers."
"It definitely doesn't bother me. I like to see them around, makes me feel safe and I hope it makes others feel safe too," said Ashlan Yeros, a vendor at the festival.
"I think it's important that they be prepared to act and be available," said Kelleen Raska.
While there will be some noticeable increases in security, there will be some other measures in place the public won't see.
"We as law enforcement community need to make sure that we kind of have the upper hand for anybody that may be looking at ways to penetrate any weaknesses. So although you may not see it, we do have other options and other equipment and personnel that will be out there but not visible," said Hunt.
Overall Hunt is proud of the precautions put in place by the department and says heightened security for events will likely be a new norm.
"I'm comfortable in the plan we have in place, I think that we've done everything that we feel that we can do to ensure that this is a safe and fun event for the citizens," he said.
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