City officials announced yesterday it will be setting up a portable lighting system in certain areas downtown like one installed during the 2012 Super Bowl festivities to enhance security. The added security was announced following a fatal shooting and mayhem that occurred in downtown during the Fourth of July festivities as roaming mobs of teens moved about the area following the fireworks display. The Star's Tim Evans reports:
“Several hundred” police officers will be Downtown along with hundreds of volunteers to help the event run smoothly, said Indianapolis Homeland Security Chief Gary Coons.
Officers will be instructed to “engage” large crowds rather than order them around, a strategy that helped last year’s celebration go off without incident, Coons said.
“Our focus will be on crowd management, not crowd control,” Coons said.
Mounted police, motorcycle units, undercover officers and officers on bicycles will be stationed Downtown.
Michael Bates, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department deputy chief, said police will provide additional lighting for Downtown areas that are relatively dark, mostly on the east side of Downtown and on Maryland Street.
In addition, he said, police will visit the homes of about 15 to 20 known gang members or troublemakers to warn them against causing problems if they attend Expo.
“We tell them we know who they are and what they look like, so we’ll be having our eyes on them,” Bates said.
IMPD also will send out Twitter alerts about traffic and other problems. In addition, about 75 surveillance cameras will provide live feeds to a command van Downtown.The timing for this year's Black Expo could not be worse as jury deliberations are expected to begin by tomorrow in the racially-charged prosecution of Sanford, Florida crime watch volunteer George Zimmerman, a case the Obama Justice Department has expended taxpayer resources and muscle in an effort to fuel racial unrest throughout the country. Florida law enforcement officials are already preparing for race riots in the event the six female jurors return an acquittal in the case.
Many of the security elements were in place last year at Expo and at the 2012 Super Bowl, with just a few “wrinkles” being added, Bates said . . .
Black Expo officials told the Indianapolis Star that their event has nothing to do with black teen violence, although ten teens were shot during the event's 2010 event and multiple shootings and hundreds of arrests have plagued the event in the past and many downtown businesses prefer to close during peak periods because of safety concerns. “We strongly object to the notion that every act of youth violence in the city brings into question the safety of Summer Celebration,” she said in a statement to The Star.