PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- In light of the bombings and threats in Boston this week, security is a concern at events across the country. At Hillbilly Days in Pikeville, that means more law enforcement officers and a heightened sense of alert.
“So far everything’s been going really smoothly, but we're a lot stricter on everything this year, even the parking,” Patrolman Chad Branham of the Pikeville Police Department said.
Officers from a number of agencies are supervising Hillbilly Days: Pikeville Police Department, Kentucky State Police, Alcohol Beverage Control and the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, among others. While these agencies usually provide security for the event, they’re out in higher numbers this year. Other agencies have also pitched in to help.
“There’s times when we have 20 officers out at a time, which is about our max,” Branham said. “Other departments, I’ve noticed, upon our request and just trying to help out, have had more units here than normal.”
Paul Maynard, Pikeville Public Safety Director, said they are being more cautious than usual.
“With the tragedy in Boston, it’s put us on a higher state of alert, so our officers are being a lot more vigilant while they’re downtown,” Maynard said.
City employees who are not involved with law enforcement have been called in to work traffic control points, freeing up officers to investigate any threats or suspicious activity at the festival.
“We're keeping an eye on people that are entering and exiting the festivities,” Branham said. “We're doing random walk throughs at other businesses that are located indoors throughout town, checking anybody that's bringing in anything."
“These guys are equipped with radios, they’ve got two way communication with their 911 center,” Maynard said. “If anything arises, the officers downtown can get to them quickly, and it just makes for a safer event.”
Branham said people attending the festival have been happy with the increased security presence.
“There have been a lot of people telling us that we're doing a great job this year,” Branham said. “I feel like we’ve had more people talk about the increased volume of law enforcement in the area and how they appreciate that.”
Maynard said they expect as many as 150,000 people to attend throughout the festival. Those in charge said they hope the increased security will allow everyone to have a good time without any safety concerns.