Walz, law enforcement officials discuss safety preps at the state fair

[anvplayer video=”5130720″ station=”998122″]

Tuesday, local and state officials talked about safety preparations ahead of the Minnesota State Fair.

Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, state fair leaders and local law enforcement officials held a news conference with just two days left before the start of the fair.

“We started with the (Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) doing a threat assessment that we do to all special events. … I can tell you the threat level for the state fair is low,” Harrington said.

“We have parameter security details that we will have in place. That will keep people out unless they come through the gate and through our security procedures,” State Fair Police Chief Ron Knafla added.

Outside the gates, Como Park residents are preparing, too.

“We’ll be a presence out in the neighborhood, for one thing,” resident Cindy Mitsch told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

A group of three women is leading efforts for a new neighborhood safety initiative that plans to have residents out on the streets as a way to help visitors and deter possible crime.

“There will be a presence, we are hoping, deters and prevents. … What we want is to prevent any significant harm,” Jennifer Victor-Larsen, the neighborhood safety organizer, said.

Back in 2019, a shooting outside the fairgrounds on Snelling Avenue made headlines. Kate McCreight says, last year, a neighbor experienced a small altercation that escalated to violence and fueled neighbors to come up with a safety plan.

“Really, this is a new thing during the fair,” McCreight said. “A lot of us have lived here for a number of years — I’m like the newest — I’ve lived here for 14 years, never anything like that.”

Law enforcement officials praised the neighborhood initiative.

“I think that’s great news because I think we’d like to see that, not only during the state fair, we’d like to see communities own their communities, own their block,” Harrington said.

The group hopes the plan to walk the streets is a step in the right direction.

“We all want to feel safe … we want all the visitors to feel really safe, too, that’s really important to us,” Victor-Larsen said.

Click the video box above to watch the press conference.