Douglas County Sheriff's Office chats about upcoming Wakarusa Festival

June 4, 2008

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

Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Representatives from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office will be in the NewsCenter to take questions about the upcoming Wakarusa Festival and this weekend's law enforcement.

Moderator:

Welcome to today's online chat. I'm reporter Lindsey Slater and I'll be moderating today's chat. We'll be talking about Wakarusa Fest with Lt. Kari Wempe and Lt. Doug Woods of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Thanks for joining us today.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Thank you we appreciate the opportunity to answer some questions before the Wakarusa Music Fest begins.

Moderator:

We have some reader submitted questions.

lounger:

Will there be any out of sight camera's?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

No, there will be no hidden camera on the festival grounds.

brijetterom:

I have attented Wakarusa for the past three years, and I feel that it is a great thing for Douglas county. However, I understand that there are other things that maybe brought that are not. What is your plan to keep the festival Clean, without giving out uneeded MIP's ? I feel that the main concern should be hard illicit drugs. And in my passed years It has not been that way. Additionally, how many officers do you plan to have in the festival and outside the festival?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Deputies from DGSO and Troopers from Kansas Highway Patrol as well as Wildlife and Parks Officers will be patrolling the grounds of the festival in an effort to curb illegal activity. Agents from Alcohol Beverage Control will focus their law enforcement efforts on alcohol related offenses. The total number of law enforcement officers varies from day to day and shift to shift. Friday and Saturday shifts require additional manpower to keep the festival goers safe, manage crowds and curtail illegal activity. Outside of the festival the Sheriff's Office will have normal staffing on patrol.

budwhysir:

I am curious as to how much the additional security costs and if any of the extra costs come from tax payer money?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Wakarusa Festival promoters contract with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to provide a law enforcement presence at the festival. Little to no cost is incurred by tax payers.

l_town_playa:

Will you be using K-9s and searching cars for contraband?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

We will have police service dogs on the grounds during the festival; they are also trained in ground disturbance tracking. Cars being searched as they enter the festival grounds are conducted by Wakarusa Music Festival security, not law enforcement.

Moderator:

There is a possibility for severe weather during the festival. How will that affect the officers while they are on duty?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

The Sheriff's Office maintains constant communication with Douglas County Emergency Operations Center for weather watches, warnings and advisories. Should the weather become an issue, special notifications will be made by officers using their patrol vehicles' PA system to notify festival goers of possible weather conditions and appropriate action. We will also use the Festival's stages to make those announcements.

ChristyLittle:

How will traffic be managed this year? I'm worried about getting stuck in a long line to get in.

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

The Festival promoters added additional ticket lanes as festival goers enter the festival along with addional staff to accomodate festival goes in a more efficient manner. This method was employed last year successfully and reduced the traffic back up to a minimum. The plan calls to keep to that same traffic pattern this year. Good question.

booze_buds_03:

It is nice that you can warn us of severe impending weather. But what should festival goers do in the event of a tornado or baseball size hail like manhattan received the other day. Cars are technically the last place you should be, but that will probably be the only option?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

In the event of severe weather festival goers are encouraged to return to their vehicles until the storm passes. There is not adequate shelters at the state park for the amount of festival goers.

Moderator:

Aside from the storms, what should festival attendees do to beat the heat?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Festival goers should be aware of Kansas heat and humidity. Everyone at the festival should stay hydrated ( water!) wear loose fitting clothing, wear hats, use insect repellant, use a high SPF lotion ( especially for the youngest festival goers) and reduce alcohol consumption. Simply just don't overdo. There are medical staff at the festival should there be an emergency.

TomKat:

Can I bring my own 4 wheeler out to the park? Is there a helmet law in Douglas County for recreation vehicles?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Recreational 4 wheelers are not allowed in the park at any time during the year.

booze_buds_03:

Could you describe the officer presence in the campgrouds? Will they be doing 4-wheeler, bike, and walking, or will it be confined to mainly one type?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Law enforcement officers will be using bicycles, foot patrol, as well as using golf carts and possibly all terrain vehicles in the campgrounds and concert venues to keep all attendees safe.

desinr:

During the Wakarusa Festival, there always seems to be a greater pedestrian presence downtown. What steps are Law Enforcement agencies taking to police the downtown area during the festival? Will patrolling the festival and downtown simultaneously lessen or diminish police coverage for the rest of Lawrence?

Douglas County Sheriff's Office:

Downtown Lawrence is patrolled by officers of the Lawrence Police Department. Lawrence Police Department patrol officers are not assigned to the festival and therefore this will not diminish police coverage to the rest of Lawrence.

Moderator:

That's all the time we have for today. Thanks for coming in and we'll see you at Wakarusa.

Comments

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years ago

"if i attend this year, will i be safe from passing flashlights and aimless shakedowns sleeping out there?"You'll be safe, as I'm not aware of any danger that comes from a passing flashlight, but since you'll be on public property I certainly hope that the law enforcement will do their part to patrol the campgrounds. Wakarusa Festival is a family event. The sheriff's department has an obligation to maintain order and I'm glad they take the steps to do so. Leave your illegal items at home and you'll be fine.

Baille 7 years ago

"It occurs to me that if people don't break the law, they don't have any worries from the local law enforcement community."Such an odd occurrence to lead you to an erroneous conclusion. Law-abiding citizens can be the victims of illegal and unconstitutional searches. Happens all the time. And if the anecdotes are true it happened a few times last year at the Wak festival.

BlackVelvet 7 years ago

It occurs to me that if people don't break the law, they don't have any worries from the local law enforcement community. It's those who think because it's a music festival (read free for all) that they should be allowed to smoke their dope at will and the cops should look the other way. it doesn't work that way folks.

Jaylee 7 years ago

ok so i just wrote an essay that took too long to write apparently.basically, i didnt go last year because of the actions taken by the law enforcement at waka 3.my friends and i watched officers forage through camper's bags and packs at deserted sitesevery campsite around mine was searched and some had items that were siezed but some did NOT, which is alarming and leads me to the question, "how did they come upon these campsites they searched and decide they were it?" i mean, wouldnt there have to be some sort of profiling? or am i to assume they were conducting a mandatory reckless, mindless sweep? either situation frightens me.***these searches took place in my area between approximately 130-3am, kind of a ridiculous hour if you think about the fact that most everyone was exhausted from the full day of sun and dancing and hiking back and forth between campground and stage, most of them retiring to sleep or winding down with at the rowdiest a late night jam session on acoustic instruments. also a strange hour to sweep for goings-on considering the deaths/injuries from waka 2 occured during the day. in broad daylight, i watched a man who apparently mixed two drugs which stopped his heart get loaded onto a gurnee. not anywhere near 2ami could go on for a while, and would, but my intention was not to befoul the name of the douglas county sheriff's dept or any of the other fine protectors of the law who patrolled wakarusa that year, but to ask them, as well as anyone who made it out last year for waka 4, if i attend this year, will i be safe from passing flashlights and aimless shakedowns sleeping out there?

Boston_Corbett 7 years ago

Do we elect a Sheriff in this County? Then who is it? You sure can't tell from this transcript.Law enforcement, especially elected law enforcement, should be transparent and accountable to be effective. But because of the Sheriff's office ridiculous behaviour a two years ago they now hide like ghosts in the night. And it takes a 'group' of them to figure out common answers from the street.Pathetic, if you ask me. Simply pathetic.

Jaylee 7 years ago

haiku cuckoo, if i had been able to submit my original novella, i may have won your compassion. i dont fear the flashlight. its annoying and digs into my sleeping time. or in one evening's case, lovin' time. but thats besides the point. i just dont like it when my fun, relaxing evening turns into a wide-eyed night of waiting for the gestapo to decide i'm worth their time to search because i'm awake. and michaelj, you must not have read my entire post because i pointed out that i was more concerned about people who DIDNT have anything to hide but were being searched anyway. both of you can take your misspent cynicism elsewhere as my comment was obviously a little more objectively spoken than yours. i was concerned about unwarranted searches, which so happens to be a mildly hot topic if you value freedom.

BlackVelvet 7 years ago

Well Jaylee, I DID notice your claim about all the unwarranted searches.....except it's always been my experience that those very seldom occur. I'm not totally stupid to think they NEVER happen, but they happen much less often than some would have you believe. Plain and simple.And since I'm certain that my comment here will bring out the dozens of poor victims of the multitude of warrantless searches, I shall retreat to the sidelines and watch the circus. bye

Jaylee 7 years ago

would you disagree that this having happened in such high numbers at such an event warrants at least a pointed finger for profiling?

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years ago

"both of you can take your misspent cynicism elsewhere as my comment was obviously a little more objectively spoken than yours."Which of my comments did you disagree with? That Wakarusa Fest is a family event? That it is held on public grounds? That law enforcement has an obligation to maintain order in public places? That you should leave illegal items at home? All of those statements are true.

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