Chat about Wakarusa Festival law enforcement with Douglas County Sheriff's officers

June 7, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department chat about security and their role at the upcoming Wakarusa Festival.


Hi, I'm 6News Anchor/Reporter Janet Reid, and I'll be moderating today's chat. With me is Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. They're here to talk about security at this year's Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival, which is officially underway.

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

Thank you. We appreicate the opportunity to visit with you. Yes, the Wakarusa Music Fest is underway and so far so good! Traffic is flowing nicely, which is a big plus.


Before we get started, how many deputies will you have working at the festival? How many other agencies are involved? Are there any "hidden" cameras in place this year? Will you be searching individual campsites?

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

On the busiest night, Saturday, when the bigger acts will be performing, we will have 19 deputies at the festival that night. Otherwise we have 10 to 12 deputies working at the Festival. Generally, there will be four agencies patrolling the grounds: Douglas County Sheriff's Office, WIldlife and Parks, Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Kansas Highway Patrol. We are not testing any surveillance cameras this year. In order to search any campsites, there must be probable cause to search. We have the responsibilities to conduct law enforcement duties as we would every day.


When you "ask" for "consent" to search a person or a vehicel do you tell the person that they have the right to tell you "no?"

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

Before we ask for consent, law enforcement officers have to have probable cause before any search. The law does not require that we say you have the right to say no, however, some of our officers will remind the person that "no " is an option.


Who pays for the extra officers needed to staff this event? Why was it necessary for the SO to discuss their security plans with festival organizers?

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

We are there by contract with Wakarusa Festival promoters and they pay for our deputies to be there. Festival Promoters, Festival security, Medical and Sheriff's Office have a combined / cohesive operations plan to create a safe and secure environment. It is interesting to note, that for 4 days, the Wakarusa Music Festival is the second largest city in Douglas County.


I want to thank the sheriff's office for the great measures taken to ensure a safe and compliant music festival but I am dismayed at the attitude held by so many that the recreational drug use that occurs there out in the open should be overlooked. Thank you in advance for enforcing the law! Does your department feel like you need to "back off" a bit this year with arrests made because of this criticism? I hope not!

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

We are there to provide a safe and secure, and lawful festival. We will continue to appropriately deal with unlawful acts/ violation of the law. We have the same numbers of officers to patol the festival grounds as we did last year. We have not backed off enforcing the law. We want festival attendees to have a good time, but do so in a safe way.


We're about out of time, but with the possibility of severe weather moving into our area, what is the plan to notify all the thousands of festival-goers?

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

We will notify the attendees through concert public address systems, the festival St. Bernard program volunteers and law enforcement officer's patrol PA systems. We keep patrons advised of the possiblity of dangerous weather. They will be instructed to return to vehicles to wait the storm out or go to low lying areas. The park is not equipped with storm shelters.


Thank you both for being here. We hope the weather stays clear for the festival.

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods:

Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions. We'll see you at the festival.


Baille 11 years ago

" Before we ask for consent, law enforcement officers have to have probable cause before any search." Does the department need more training, lieutenants?

"A warrantless search is per se unreasonable unless it falls within a recognized exception.

"Kansas has recognized eight exceptions to the Fourth Amendment search warrant requirement: (1) consent, (2) searches incident to a lawful arrest, (3) stop and frisks, (4) probable cause to search accompanied by exigent circumstances, (5) the emergency doctrine, (6) inventory searches, (7) plain view, and (8) administrative searches of closely regulated businesses."

State v. Fewell, 152 P.3d 1249 (Kan.App. 2007)

Remember, folks, if they ask for permission to search, just say "no." If it done with a warrant or pursuant to the other 7 - ask for an attorney. :)

ScottyMac 11 years ago

Moderator: Are there any "hidden" cameras in place this year?

Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods: We are not testing any surveillance cameras this year.

Hmm... Evasive response, doncha think?

Paul Geisler 11 years ago

I know this is outside of the festival grounds but I was just informed that the Highway Patrol is searching vehicles at the I-70 exit with drug dogs! Didn't they say they would not have a checkpoint at the Turnpike exit this year! What's the difference? Are they not stopping everyone, just the ones that the dogs go crazy over? Come on! What a load of crap!

Baille 11 years ago


Look, people, the police tell you not to lie to them and try to make you feel gulty if you do. Yet they can and do lie to people all teh time. It is fine. It works. Nice law enforcement tactic. But, absent being under oath, you get to play by the same rules.

Anyway, years ago drug dogs were found not to constitute a search that required a warrant. Or maybe it wasn't a search at all. I don't know what convoluted logic the Court used to get to that holding and I ain't gonna look it up (Jamesaust?), but suffice it to say that the jack-booted thugs can shove a German Shepherd up your tailpipe any time they choose and all you can say is "No, officer, you do not have my permission to search my person or my car." This and a nice bottle of KY might make you feel better, but it won't stop the search.

When all else fails, ask for an attorney and then keep your mouth shut.

schweppy 11 years ago

First of all Baille, what the officers were saying is that they need probable cause to ask for consent to make a search, not simply probable cause to make a search. Even with probable cause one can still deny the search. However, if the probable cause or reasonable suspicion is great enough, they will return with a warrant. In addition to the eight exceptions you cited, there is also a vehicle exception "an automobile search may be upheld as long as there is probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime in the automobile." State v. Davis.

And Scotty, I don't think the response was evasive at all. Last year they tested surveillance cameras, and they said this year they were not. Where's the evasion?

Baille 11 years ago

"First of all Baille, what the officers were saying is that they need probable cause to ask for consent to make a search."

And they were and are wrong. Look at State v.Davis: "It then proceeded to hold that despite Jimerson exceeding the scope of Moore's consent by pulling the molding loose, the resultant search was justified because of probable cause developed during the part of the search to which Moore had consented." Consent allowed search which then led to the existence of probable cause. And...there were other cases, but I got distracted and lost my connection. :) Look 'em up.

In addition I got the car thing in my list, Schweppy. "(4) probable cause to search accompanied by exigent circumstances..." Exigent circumstances include but are not limited to the motor vehicle exception. There is also imminent destruction of evidence, hot pursuit, and others.

kmat 11 years ago

Don't believe a word from any of these people. There are checkpoints with dogs on K-10 and I-70 and a freind with connections has said cameras are in place. I've posted before that I have unfortunately known the folks that promote the fest and they are GIANT LIARS! Unless you want your rights violated, don't attend. This festival is a joke and there are so many better fests all over the country to attend!

Mike Blur 11 years ago

Well, at least this year they are allowing bottled imported beer in, and not confiscating it and consuming it/reselling it like they did last year.

I trust Mosiman about as far as I can throw him.

Baille 11 years ago

So if the cameras are left in the woods, do they become abandoned property? And if they are abandoned, can one simply spray paint the lenses black without fear of legal recourse?

Any attorneys out there who can answer this question? Jamesaust? JTF?

Michael Capra 11 years ago

baille, black helos beware and mother ships

Baille 11 years ago

"black helos beware and mother ships"

wtf? They had hidden cameras last year surveilling the festival. This ain't a conspiracy theory, Spanky, it's a fact. Check the archives.

lounger 11 years ago

Who's rear end is Bassetlover trying to smooch on. Jeez c'mon! The drugs at the festival are probably safer than the over the counter poison that's dished out to most americans.

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