City police say they won’t bolster their patrols with extra officers as two major events are set to overlap this weekend.
Brandon Police Service Sgt. Mike Pelechaty says the force is confident it can handle both the Dakota Nation Winterfest and the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival.
Usually, the events fall on separate weekends, but not this year. Pelechaty acknowledged that brings an unknown factor to policing, but he said history has shown neither has proven trouble on their own.
"Based on the past, these events on their own haven’t posed an exorbitant problem for us … Our plans are in place based on the fact that neither of them in the past few years has presented a public safety problem," Pelechaty said.
Dakota Nation Winterfest (DNWF) will be held at the Keystone Centre from Friday through Sunday. It’s described as the largest aboriginal sport and cultural event of its kind under one roof.
Among its events are volleyball and hockey tournaments, games, a trade show and a powwow. It has been known to draw an estimated 10,000 visitors.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival is a celebration of the city’s cultural diversity that drew more than 40,000 visitors to 13 pavilions last year. There will be nine pavilions this year for the event that runs tonight through Saturday. Alcohol is served at a number of pavilions.
The DNWF itself is a drug- and alcohol-free event. However, festival attendees have been known to party in surrounding venues.
Pelechaty said they’ve noted that calls to police historically rise around the time of the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival, but there have been few problems.
He acknowledged, though, that the potential for problems grows when a large number of people are drawn to one area.
"It does bring in a lot of people which, along with that, brings in the potential for increased calls for service for a variety of reasons," Pelechaty said.
Police have considered the scenario of having two major festivals running at the same time but aren’t calling in extra bodies.
Patrol officers, of which there are typically 10 to 12 on duty during any given shift, will do walk-throughs and handle any problems at Winter Festival pavilions and the DNWF.
Officers are encouraged to check in with event organizers.
Community resource officers will attend the pavilions as part of public relations, Pelechaty said, but they’ll also be ready if there are problems.
Traffic officers and members of other units will be available to help if the need arises, he added.
There is no plan for dedicated checkstops due to two major events, Pelechaty said, and traffic officers will not target venues.
He also pointed to a city plan to provide free busing for the Winter Festival, which will hopefully curb drunk driving.
The Canad Inns hotel is at the Keystone Centre, and would house many DNWF guests.
Pelechaty said that in the past, the hotel has paid for a couple of police officers to be stationed there and respond to any problems.
That request wasn’t made last year and there were no problems, he said, and the hotel hasn’t requested special duty this year.
The DNWF has its own security, he noted.