Santa Cali Gon Days Festival adding officers, drones to security measures

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. —  The deadly shooting at Crossroads First Friday event in August is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

This year, the Santa Cali Gon Days Festival, a festival in Independence, is expecting 300,000 people. Police said they are ramping up security measures to deal with the expected crowd.

“We have a lot of officers out just patrolling. We got our command center at Liberty and Kansas to the West, but you’ll see our officers riding around on our four wheelers, and just walking around, as well,” Officer Jodi Grooms with the Independence Police Department said.

It’s one of the biggest celebrations in Independence, packed with carnival rides, games, and everyone’s favorite festival food.

“I was born and raised in Independence, so, I’ve been coming since I was a little girl,” festival goer Becca Smith said.

Smith, who still calls Independence home, said she is happy to introduce her three children to one of her favorite events in the city, but not without having the important conversation about whether it was safe, first.

A conversation and thought many other attendees said they are also having.

“I see a lot of cops around, but, you know, it’s a possibility. It’s a lot of people here. Just pray and hope security is always on guard,” Kettle Corn employee Abraham Al-Sadiq said.

Independence police said safety and security at the four-day festival is their number one concern.

When a shooting happened outside the carnival last year, they said they were prepared.

This year, the introduction of drones is adding an even bigger scope and line of security.

“This is the first year we are going to have them up, just to keep an eye on things, make sure we get a good view of everything going on,” Grooms said. “We actually have a pilot for every shift, everyone of our watches have a drone pilot.”

Those who came today, say they refuse to live their life in fear.

“You can never control every aspect of every situation, but I’m not going to not go out and support the community because of fear. I think they got it under control,” Smith said.

The event kicked off Friday and will end on Labor day at 5 p.m.



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