Officers in Kansas spend weeks preparing safety plans for large crowd gatherings

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – From eyes in the sky to forces on the ground, police and sheriff leaders do an ops plan for all major events just in case.

“You will see us with officers, and obvious things, but there’s just a lot that goes on behind the scenes you will never see,” says Wichita Deputy Chief Jose Salcido. “And our operations plans will change for different events. Even Riverfest, it definitely would have to change based on the threat environment.”

Salcido says they have officers with binoculars high in the air during the Wichita RiverFest. And a lot more measures for safety that can change based on current terror threats.

“I don’t know if you noticed it but down at Riverfest, instead of having regular fencing, it was all concrete,” says Salcido of the barriers used at the event this year. “That’s not something we put out to the public, but it’s a counter-measure to a measure that the bad guys take. Very subtle but things like that have to be incorporated into an ops plan.”

Salcido says he is a voracious reader and watcher of current news events. He is always studying terror tactics employed here and abroad, so his teams can prepare for anything.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter points out we can learn from the past right here in Wichita. Easter points to the August 1976 sniper attack of Michael Soles. Soles went atop the Garvey Center, known then as the Holiday Inn, and killed three before police rushed the man.

“Mr. Soles on top of the Holiday Inn years ago did something very similar to what happened in Las Vegas,” says Easter. “It’s a mass casualty event. Those are the things we plan for whether it’s weather related or man-made, it doesn’t matter. We plan for those type of events and we train for these type of events.”

Both Easter and Salcido say their thoughts and prayers go out to victims and family members as well as first-responders in Las Vegas this week.

Easter says, while officers in Nevada did everything they could, any help from the public is always welcome. And sometimes it’s a public tip that can make the difference.

“We have a lot of police and deputies on patrol every day. We have the proper training in place to handle active shooter events. We go through that every year ,” said Easter. “But, if a civilian sees something, you have to call it in. You never know. Hey, report it. What’s the least that’s going to happen? The person gets contacted by the police, and there’s nothing going on and on down the road they go.”

Salcido says the plans will change for protecting the public from year-to-year and even month-to-month. But, he adds, one thing never changes and that is planning.

“Our commanders have to have an (operations) ops plan. No plan is the same year-to-year,” said Salcido. “But our commanders always have an ops plan.”

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