Double Decker is fast approaching, and with a crowd of more than 60,000 expected to make their way to the Oxford Square for the two-day event, the Oxford Police Department is getting ready for one of their biggest weekends of the year.
Immediately after last year’s festival ended, a debriefing meeting was held and preparations began for 2017. Meetings were held throughout the year, but planning time is limited because of preparations for football season. But after the new year begins, the real preparation begins. As far as the plan for this year, the task will take everyone the department has, with all officers, staff, reserve officers and mounted patrol sharing responsibilities this weekend.
“Double Decker is one of, if not our biggest event. No one is off; everyone is working in some capacity,” McCutchen said. “We’ll have officers on the outer perimeter for crowd control issues and inside the festivities walking and monitoring at all times. Security crews will rotate in and out for 45 hours until the festival is over. We’ll have an officer crew come in on Friday at 5 p.m. to get everyone ready, and we’ll run that group until the bands leave the stage Saturday night. So, it’s really an ‘all hands on deck’ two-day event.”
Shifts of officers will overlap during the highest traffic times of the festival, which will see about 20 officers on patrol at any given time and 15 without the overlap.
McCutchen and the department recognize their role in the festival’s success for years to come.
“If we see a problem arising, we don’t want it to become a big deal. We’ll go over adjust it, talk to the people, and then if they don’t want to comply, we can get them out of there. We don’t want this to become an event that families don’t want to come to,” McCutchen said. “It’s a great event. It’s always attended well, so kudos to everyone involved in putting it on, but we know that if we don’t do our job and be proactive in dealing with problems and if you don’t address certain behaviors, [that activity] will grow.”
McCutchen reiterated the point that OPD’s plan doesn’t set out to arrest people during the festival, but that is an option although it is rare.
“People are coming here to shop, to be entertained. There’s not a lot of cutting up especially since it’s a two-day event. Heck, they’re tired by Saturday night,” McCutchen said. “It’s one of those deals where if you don’t cause an issue, you’re not going to have an issue. People do a really good job respecting the festival and keeping it family friendly. Arrests are rare, so if you get arrested at Double Decker, you earned it.”
OPD’s social media presence is no secret, and it will be front and center during the two-day festival. Updates will be posted to update festival goers and Oxford residents on parking, locations of emergency services and more. New to the department’s social media repertoire for the festival will be a Snapchat presence replacing last year’s “Ride With OPD During Double Decker.”
“Beforehand, we will constantly post about parking, locations of emergency services and other things that are important to the community. During the festival, we’ll tweet a lot as well,” McCutchen said. “For ‘Ride Along’ inside the facility last year, there wasn’t a whole lot of action, so we’re going to use Snapchat this year to show the scenes of Double Decker, which will hopefully be fun for people to follow along with.”
With a limited number of officers, they may not be able to see everything, so the department encourages everyone to be on the lookout and be sure to inform them if they see something that needs to be handled by law enforcement.
“If you see a problem call us, let us, hit us up on Twitter,” McCutchen said. “We’re out and we’re working, and we want to deal with it. It’s a small area, but when you put 60,000 people in, we can get drowned out by the crowd, so if someone is experiencing a problem we want to get it handled as quickly as possible.”
Double Decker begins this Friday and will continue through the weekend.
For information on parking and tow zones, click here.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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