City plan for special event street closures a smart move

Published 10:27 am Thursday, November 9, 2017

Car shows, 5K run/walks, parades and festivals are incredible opportunities for community-engagement, fellowship and even fundraising.

Special events that draw anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand visitors can become monumental jobs not only for the organizers, but also many city and county employees who take part in the preparation, monitoring and clean up of these events. This can become particularly difficult to manage with several events each month to coordinate around, and even more so without adequate notice.

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer aired some of his concerns to the Winchester Board of Commissioners Monday about how his department can best help with these events when streets are closed and/or police presence is necessary.

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Palmer said as the number of events and requests for street closures around Winchester have grown, the city’s police officers have been stretched further and further to provide traffic control.

Palmer said there have been several instances where events were scheduled and the police department only had a couple days notice to prepare, or a circuitous route was proposed for a five-kilometer run, which required more traffic control than usual.

With these challenges, Palmer proposed a plan that would offer designated routes for parades and road races. The plan would also outline some of the popular and traditional events that already have designated locations and law enforcement plans like the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival, Beer Cheese Festival and some parades.

The plan would require 30 days notice for events to allow planning and scheduling.

Now more than ever it is important for people to feel safe when they are attending an event where there will many other people. Creating a safe environment, whether that is from accidental or intentional harm, requires a strong police presence. In order to provide that protection and peace of mind for our citizens and visitors, we must give our law enforcement officers the tools they need.

Giving sufficient notice and creating a handful of reasonable, safe and well-researched location and route plans will do just that.

We urge the city commission to take Palmer’s recommendation seriously and enact a plan to help his department help our community.