LEXINGTON, N.C. – Lexington police are closely looking at their security plans ahead of the city’s biggest barbecue event.
“We’re very cognizant of suspicious behavior,” said Major Robby Rummage with the Lexington Police Department. “We would never want any tragedy here.”
After seeing the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night, Major Rummage says officers are making sure the 100,000 people expected to pack in for food and music are safe.
“We’re not going to be blinded by the fact that we’re in Lexington and that’s in Las Vegas, Nevada,” Rummage said. “We do let recent events inform our decisions.”
While they haven’t shared if and how they’ll change their plans after the massacre, it’s on their minds as officers get ready to do some security training for the city’s largest event.
“Who’s coming in? What are they bringing in?” Rummage said, giving some examples are of how officers have to think when covering large events.
Rummage says police create a strategy a year before each barbecue festival and officers are trained to be alert at all times and prepared for anything.
“It’s not the same plan every year,” Rummage said. “We adapt as times changes.”
Sixty-five officers work the event with at least one armed officer at each entrance, according to Rummage.
“This is not something that we just wake up and show up that day,” he said.
Metal gates will also be set up for crowd control.
An ordinance passed in 2014 also bans items that can be used as weapons.
“We just don’t want it in here,” he said. “It’s not needed to have a good time at the festival.”
Business owners like James Roach says he’s glad police are stepping it up.
“I say better safe than sorry,” Roach said.
He owns a boutique on South Main Street and says the large crowds and country music at the event in Las Vegas felt all too familiar.
“That easily hits home and makes you think, ‘man that could have been us,’” Roach said.
But Major Rummage says the public has no reason to worry.
“We want everyone to enjoy their time,” Rummage said. “If they see something, let us know.”
The 2017 Lexington Barbecue Festival takes place on October 28th.