Dotson seeks to reassure public with Fair St. Louis security protocol

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - St. Louis police want to be prepared for anything at this year’s Fair St. Louis. Chief of Police Sam Dotson said whenever terrorist events occur around the world his staff reviews them here and determines what they can learn from them.

The security plan here is always changing, according to James Boldt, the vice chairman of this year’s Fair St. Louis.

“It’s tweaked all the time based on what we learn and what we experience,” Boldt said.

There will be many surveillance cameras watching over the fairgrounds on Art Hill; they’re connected to the real time crime center back at headquarters.

“The world we lived in has changed,” Dotson said.

Some 300 acres are fenced in with four different entrances. Both city and county police have mobile command posts set up and ready to go.

“You’re going to see lots of police officers and their yellow reflective vests. We’ve got officers in plain clothes that will blend in with the crowd we’re monitoring. (On) social media we’re doing a variety of thing to make sure your experience at the fair is safe and good,” Dotson said.

Recent terrorist attacks in Turkey and Orlando have police realizing it’s easier for terrorists to go after soft targets—bars and arrival areas at airports—and the people who carry out the attacks can be local and homegrown.

“Over the last couple of years, the threat profile has changed,” Dotson said.

The chief said police here will concentrate on entrance points at the fairgrounds, where there are lots of people.

“There’s a mindset of makings sure that we do as much as we can to keep the perimeter hardened to look for individuals who don’t fit in, who may have brought suspicious packages with them, that may not dress appropriate for the environment,” he said.

Dotson said there are no known threats against anything in St. Louis including the fair and the parade. He said fair planners are also prepared for rough weather.

“We do have plans in place if there were a lightning event or a wind event. We do have plans in place.”

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