Keeping the Rice Festival safe: A word from the chief
By Paula Guillory
The 73rd edition of the Rice Festival kicks off tonight with all the cultural favorites: a zestful performance by Kira Viator and Bayou Beat, four blocks of delicious Cajun food and Petry’s Hurricanes.
“This is a festival to celebrate our agricultural history and culture,” pointed out Crowley Chief of Police, K.P. Gibson, “so come out and enjoy yourselves, but remember this is a family event.”
“We should proudly represent our heritage by celebrating smartly and taking all of the necessary precautions to keep the weekend a safe and enjoyable event for all involved,” Gibson exclaimed.
The Crowley Police Department will be going the extra mile to ensure the safety for all festivalgoers and the community alike. In addition to the 44 staff officers there will be almost 20 additional personnel from various agencies as well as reserve officers from throughout the area. Gibson explained, “there will be help from Rayne, Church Point and the Acadia Parish Sheriff Department as well as officers from as far as Opelousas, Basile and Vermilion Parish.”
Crowley officers that are regularly scheduled to patrol units will work their regular schedule. Gibson explained that there will not be a lack of coverage throughout the city during the festival, the community will be patrolled as usual. The remaining staff as well as the additional personnel will be on the festival grounds.
The public is encouraged to “find an officer and ask for assistance” if they are in need of help Gibson said. There will be officers patrolling the grounds as well as the suburbs surrounding.
He also explained that because parking is so scattered it is very important for the public to protect themselves as well.
Some ways to do this is to never walk alone. People are encouraged to stay in groups and in well let areas of the street. Gibson would like to “encourage people to carpool instead of taking various vehicles.” One measure to take is to have something with you that could create a distraction in the event of an attack; examples include whistles, car panic buttons or anything that will draw attention to yourself. Gibson reminds the public, “there is no property that is worth someone getting hurt.”
He also advises that purses, wallets, briefcases and all other valuables be left at home.
On the festival grounds, there will be two “kid safe” locations. Parents should explain to their child what to do in the event of a separation as well as have some form of identification with names and phone numbers for officials to use. Gibson issues this advice to parents, “contact an officer as soon as you suspect your child is missing, do not wonder around looking; the more eyes looking the better.”
Some additional tips to keep the weekend enjoyable is to leave all glass containers and pets at home, “be smart and more tolerant of the large crowds,” refrain from drinking and driving by designating a driver prior to the festival and be cautious of pedestrians and children in the road ways.
One last word of advice from the chief is, “fighting will land you in jail with a $1000 cash bond, so keep yourself out of trouble and enjoy the weekend.”