SPRINGFIELD, Ill. —
For the second year in a row, people who attend the Illinois State Fair can expect to be on camera in certain areas of the fairgrounds.
Illinois State Police are using surveillance cameras again this year particularly in high-traffic areas such as the carnival to more easily monitor large crowds, according to Capt. James Wolf.
But camera use has nothing to do with manpower. Despite state budget woes, Wolf said state police have not reduced the number of troopers patrolling the fairgrounds, although he would not disclose the specific number of troopers working the fairgrounds.
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"Our staffing levels are consistent with years past," Wolf said.
The security cameras stream live to the state police's fairground headquarters to help troopers watch large crowds, Wolf said. There will be signs to indicate certain areas are being filmed.
"I think most people know what surveillance cameras look like, and if they see one hanging on a pole, it's a good indication we're monitoring that area," he said. "Our shift commanders and our field supervisors can monitor certain parts of the fairgrounds from headquarters as opposed to always having to be on foot."
Fairgoers say they're pleased that the troopers are out in force once again.
Tom Noonan of Springfield was in the carnival area with his two young sons on Sunday and said he hasn't felt unsafe yet.
"I've been coming here since I was very small," he said. "It keeps changing, but there are a lot of police, and I feel safe out here."
Jim Renfro, also of Springfield, said he also is reassured by seeing officers around the grounds.
"The police presence is pretty high," he said. "I was here late (Saturday), and they were stopping people who were smoking, telling them that it wasn't allowed."
Gary Kroeschel of Chatham was in the carnival area Sunday with his two young children.
"I feel safe and I have no concerns," he said. "I think it's a good state police presence out here."
As of Sunday, there had been no arrests at the fairgrounds, although troopers had kicked out about 12 people during the course of the fair for such minor indiscretions as disorderly conduct and public intoxication, Wolf said.
The greatest concern this year is the heat, he said.
"In the past couple of years we've had a break in the weather that typically Illinois has during August. We're very hot right now and very humid, and that's going to be a concern of ours not only for our own officers but also for fairgoers."
"We're going to be extra diligent keeping our troopers hydrated and making sure we can respond to any medical emergencies on the grounds."
Troopers have also been watching one thing as part of their plans to staff the fairgrounds: ticket sales for Grandstand concerts.
"We keep a close eye on ticket sales, and then we adjust our work force to handle those problems that are associated with large crowds."
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