After the former state fair police chief retired, the Minnesota State Fair has gone back to the drawing board for assembling a police presence for the upcoming fair. Rather than have their own force, as they have had for over 40 years, they will be working with a local department to provide security for the 2021 fair.
The former state fair police officers were much like other police officers. Former State Fair Police Chief Paul Paulos said “State Fair police officers are armed. And they’re licensed and trained like any other officer.” In prior years, the State Fair Police Department would be made up of retired police officers, other trained officers, and police officers working in their spare time.
Minnesota Public Radio News reported that “The fair’s police department had more than 50 employees as recently as 2018, although not all were sworn officers.”
Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher says he is having conversations with the fair but commented that getting enough officers will be “daunting” because of the recent drops in the number of officers employed.
The fair has allegedly asked the St. Paul Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, and the University of Minnesota Police Department and all three rejected the request because of a shortage of officers.
In Minnesota Public Radio’s interview with Sheriff Fletcher he shared that “We’re not going to commit unless we know we can get the job done right. And it’s critical that the job be done right, because there’s 2 million people that come to this fair… It’s just too important not to have the right level of safety there.” He estimated that the number of officers needed for the 2021 fair would be around 200.
The state fair general manager, Jerry Hammer, said in a public statement that “Technology, training, equipment and standards evolve throughout the fair’s many departments, including our safety and security systems. We’ve determined that the most effective and efficient way to provide the best possible public safety is to partner with an outside agency.”
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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun | Star News Network and The College Fix. She graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Send news tips to [email protected]
Photo “Minnesota State Fair” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.