Looking beyond the obvious for festival safety

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COLUMBUS - Huge snow plows, dump trucks, and other massive equipment recently lined the race route for the Komen Columbus Race for the Cure. The practice is now becoming standard policy for major events in central Ohio and beyond.

“Anything can happen anywhere,” says Sgt. Sam Byrd with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Bureau. “One of the things we like to tell people is always think the what ifs – what if this happens, if that happens, and how you can plan to be ready for that.”

Sgt. Byrd says it’s difficult to predict when or where vehicle-style attacks will occur as we’ve seen in major cities like France, London, and New York City.

According to a recent U.S. News and World Report, only 10 such attacks took place between 1996 and 2013 globally. That number jumped to 40 attacks between the years 2014-2017.

So how do you protect yourself or your family in a case like that?

“When you’re talking about if you’re really worried about someone trying to run into a crowd of people walking into a venue, put natural barriers between you and them,” Sgt. Byrd suggests.

“Vehicles, trees, a lot of these places have bollards, poles sitting out front to keep vehicles from getting up into certain areas.”

Sgt. Byrd says it’s important for families to always remember “see something, say something.”

“I think you just look at demeanor, how are they acting, the fact that they could be out gathering intelligence, information,” he explains. “If they ask specific questions about certain venues like how many security officers do you have at a time or what time do you open or close?”

Sgt. Byrd also says don’t always assume someone with a backpack is up to no good. Instead, look at the person’s behavior.

“It’s watching what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and what they’re looking at,” he says. “Maybe they’re planning, and the wheels are turning, and you can pick up on those certain indicators sometimes.”