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Calgary Stampede security and police outline preparations

CALGARY — Police and security officials say Big Brother will be a big help as they prepare to enforce the law at the Calgary Stampede.


July 4, 2016
By Bill Graveland for The Canadian Press

The 10-day cowboy festival, which kicks off Friday with a parade, will have its own separate police district at the Calgary Stampede grounds.

There were 1,168,509 people who walked through the turnstiles last year and Stampede District commander, Insp. Leah Barber, says it’s challenging to have about 100,000 people each day in the roughly 100-hectare park.

“We want to make sure we’re visible. When someone is having a problem or they see something they think isn’t right, we want to be there for them,” said Barber. “It’s a lot of people in a very small area of the city, but luckily almost everybody here is here to have a good time and not to be doing criminal activity.”

It’s not always peaceful. Last summer officers responded to a fight in the midway area and discovered two men with stab wounds. One of them died last fall.

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Bag checks will be in place at the front gates to search for weapons and alcoholic beverages.

The manager of security services for the Stampede said there will be additional officers assigned to the midway area. There are also a lot of cameras on the site, so if something untoward happens there’s a good possibility it will be caught on video.

“Chances are very good. I won’t give you exact numbers but we do have a rather extensive CCTV network on the park,” said Paul Burrows.

Barber said having security cameras doesn’t always prevent crime, but they are useful.

“When you have something occur, and you have video that shows what actually happened, it certainly makes prosecution easier,'” she said.

“And sometimes it does make it easier to identify offenders or victims later if we can get the video soon enough.”

Having 100,000 people in one place could also make the Stampede a target in any kind of terrorist attack, although Barber said she doesn’t see that happening. But all precautions are being taken, she said.

“With everything that’s gone on around the globe recently, it’s something that we’re very aware of. We’ve been doing a lot of analytical work to ensure we have the information that we need. At this time we don’t have any information suggesting that this is a high-risk target, but as a police service in general we want to make sure we’re keeping all Calgarians safe.”

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016