Anything that could go wrong will go wrong, according to Murphy’s Law, and the Durango Police Department spent weeks preparing for the worst at the 42nd annual Snowdown Light Parade, said Chief Bob Brammer.
Law enforcement officials partnered this week with the Southwest Incident Management Team to supplement safety and emergency management downtown in anticipation of thousands of people lining Main Avenue for Friday’s Light Parade.
The management team consists of former police officers, firefighters and health care professionals, Brammer said. Southwest Incident Management Team responds statewide to emergencies and events, such as the 416 Fire and Iron Horse Bicycle Race.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “It could be a lost kid up to, who knows – aliens could come.”
While extraterrestrial contact is unlikely, Brammer said the team prepared for scenarios including a mass shooting, even though no threat was known. “We are prepared,” Brammer said.
“The safety of the public, that’s our premier responsibility,” he said. “We take any opportunity we have to be better prepared and make sure it’s a safe, fun-filled event.”
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Adrian Driscoll said troopers were assigned to support Durango Police with the parade. The agency also enlisted DUI troopers to supplement everyday drunken driving enforcement.
“A designated driver is always a good thing,” Driscoll said. “We like people to go out and have fun, but we want people to do it safely. And stay warm.”
The Police Department installed a surveillance camera at Ninth Street and Main Avenue to monitor the crowd remotely in an effort to supplement on-foot officers. The camera is connected to artificial intelligence technology that can track individuals and predict movement.
“We’ll be able to have eyes on (the crowd), and we’ll be able to see more,” Brammer said.
Durango police surveillance equipment is not capable of facial recognition or personal identification, Brammer said, but it could track a missing child or person of interest. If the technology proves useful, DPD may consider expanding its surveillance network downtown, Brammer said.
“We want people to know where these things are,” he said. “If we put 20 more (cameras) down there, we want people to know where it is – it’s about crime prevention.”