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DPS will watch rodeo crowds

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

SIKESTON -- While large crowds are expected at this year's Sikeston Jaycee Bootheel Rodeo, one thing that is not expected is trouble, and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety intends to keep it that way.

"We want to focus on it being a more secure event this year," said DPS Director Drew Juden. "We are really going to clamp down on the gates and the security of rodeo in general."

Juden said that with large crowds expected every night, officers will have to be prepared from the minute the gates open Wednesday night.

"Usually the first night or two we get a chance to cruise into the weekend, but this year with it being the 50th year and Alabama coming we are going to be loaded down right away," Juden said.

For 50 years the rodeo has been coming to Sikeston and for the same amount of time the biggest cause of concern for DPS personnel has been the same.

"Alcohol is our biggest problem every year," Juden said. "Anytime you get 10-12,000 people in that confined area that come from all over and you throw in the consumption of alcohol, people just seem to do things they normally wouldn't do. I've said it before that the rodeo brings out the best and worst in people."

Alcohol isn't the only area where officers will focus their attention as extra security will be provided on the parking lot in order to prevent theft and damage to vehicles and any other problems that might arise.

"We are also going to have tighter security around the gates to prevent people from gaining access without a ticket," Juden said. "We really don't foresee any major problems."

At last year's rodeo, officers used a new prisoner transport van to hold people that were arrested or detained at the rodeo.

"The transport van worked out great last year," Juden said. "We are going to use it again this year as our portable jail."

With temperatures expected to be in the 90s this week, the heat will also be a cause for concern for DPS officers.

"The heat always plays a part, especially when you have a sold out facility," Juden said. "Knock on wood, but we have not had any major heat-related incidents since we stopped having the Sunday afternoon performances."

While DPS along with the Scott County Sheriff's office and Missouri Highway Patrol will watch closely to make sure everything is secure, Juden said typically the event is very safe with very few serious problems.

"We just want to make it a safe rodeo for everybody so everybody has a good time and doesn't have to put up with anything that they don't have to in their normal environment," Juden said.