HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla (WFLA) – Hillsborough County deputies and other law enforcement officers turned out in full force for the opening of the Florida State Fair.
The fair officially opened Thursday, and Friday is students’ day.
In 2014, teens stampeded during the fair in a ritual known as wilding. More than 100 people were tossed out of the fair. One teen, 14-year old Andrew Joseph, was killed attempting to cross I-4 after he was ejected from the fair.
Since that incident, policies at the fair have changed. There are additional law enforcement officers and cameras. Walkways have been widened and after 6 p.m., anyone under the age of 16 has to be accompanied by an adult.
Major Sank Montoute is coordinating operations at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office command vehicle. Montoute warned fair attendees there are deputies in uniform and others in plain clothes.
“You have no idea who’s looking at you,” he said. “And additionally there are several more cameras that were added to the fair, and we even added several to our sky watch that is going to be manned all the time.”
Several fairgoers SAID the additional security is welcomed. Kelly Kimmel noticed it right away. “They had us check our pockets when we came in. I see the sheriff’s office around us,” Kimmel said. “I feel comfortable. Makes you feel more secure seeing the deputies around, definitely, makes you feel good.”
Raen Manson feels the additional security is needed because of the climate of society. “I feel a lot safer that they’re out here,” Manson said. “Cause we’ve had a lot of gangs and fights going on so I’m glad they’re out here.”
Montoute is hoping parents will help law enforcement officers by keeping kids intent on causing problems at home. “If you know your child is a problem, or causes problems and has a group of folks that they hang out with that causes problems and have intentions of coming out here I just urge you, please keep them home,” he said.
READ MORE ABOUT THE FLORIDA STATE FAIR: