Law enforcement gearing up for StrassenfestJuly 31, 2019
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — With an influx of thousands of festivalgoers expected to hit the streets of Jasper in the coming days, local law enforcement agencies are gearing up for a high-presence weekend.
The Jasper Police Department will have all hands on deck throughout this year’s Strassenfest — which will take place across the city from Thursday through Sunday — and the Indiana State Police will have numerous additional troopers working overtime hours during the event.
“It’s a big event that we cover every year,” said Nathan Schmitt, chief of the Jasper Police Department. “It’s a big event for Jasper, and I think it’s important to have a good officer presence.”
City officers will cover everything from parking issues to fights. Schmitt said it’s important to have department members around when so many people are gathered, both to keep behavior in check and help those in need.
A full staff of JPD officers and additional auxiliary officers will work throughout the weekend. Some will cover the roads, while others will be stationed downtown to provide security for the central hub of activity. All JPD officers are required to work, unless a special reason pulls them away.
In today’s world, you never know what dangers could arise at a densely populated event. Schmitt is confident in his team’s ability to quickly respond and end any potential threat. JPD officers are trained to handle active shooter situations.
“We pray that it never happens in our community, but we also have to train and prepare just in case any kind of incident like that might happen,” Schmitt said. “We want to be able to respond appropriately and swiftly to take care of the situation.”
In a Tuesday email, Indiana State Police spokesperson Robbie Lambert said the public “can expect to see an increased number of troopers being highly visible” in the area throughout the weekend.
The Dubois County Sheriff’s Office will operate business as usual. Sgt. Stuart Wilson explained that members of his agency will patrol roads and keep an eye out for drunk drivers, and they’ll collaborate with the city if assistance is needed. Deputies can also be seen walking on foot at the festival.
“Sometimes, just the big presence will have a certain level of prevention,” Wilson said. “This is one of those times of year where people do have a lot of open discussions about designated drivers, which is always a good thing. We want to make sure everyone gets home safe.”
Overall, Wilson said drunk driving is down for Strassenfest weekend compared to what it was decades ago. Still, his deputies will be out and searching for those who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.
Schmitt agreed, saying in recent years, people have been more responsible and better prepared for the weekend. Additional arrests are seen, he said, but not as many as you’d expect.
He encouraged anyone who sees something that shouldn’t be happening to say something to the police.
“We’re gonna be out there [with] as much police presence as we can,” Schmitt said. “But we need help from citizens. If anybody sees something that’s wrong, or if somebody needs help, please notify the police department and help be our eyes and ears to make sure we have a successful fest and a safe fest.”
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