Sheriff: State Fair ‘peaceful, quiet, safe’

There have been 74 incidents at the Fair so far as of Tuesday morning, reports Ward County Steve Kukowski.

“I don’t want to jinx myself,” he said. “But I’ll tell you what, that’s quiet for 140,000 people.”

Of the 74 incidents, 27 have been violent offenses with three domestic violence incidents and 24 disorderly conduct calls.

There were 13 alcohol-related incidents with nine liquor violations and four detoxifications, a far cry from the 13 detoxes reported from the Minot Police Department for the first weekend of the fair. The Sheriff’s Department patrols the fairgrounds, which Kukowski calls a county “island” in the middle of the city.

There have been 11 ambulance requests and 23 missing persons, but every missing person has been located.

“Mostly separtated children from adults,” Kukowski said of the missing people. “They want to go look at something and the parent goes one way and the child goes another so we have to go and hunt them down.”

Several reviews seen online of the 2012 North Dakota State Fair reported that fairgoers didn’t feel safe there during that record-setting year. Kukowski feels as though his department has improved that feeling of discomfort through the number of deputies walking around the grounds.

“I think the visibility when you see officers there and knowing that all you have to do is get their attention and they’ll certainly help,” said Kukowski of the additional presence. “We’re here to keep the peace, not make arrests. You know, just to make sure people don’t get out of hand.”

The number of Sheriff’s Department deputies and administrative staff varies depending on the events at hand.

“We still have our regular duties, we still have to patrol the county,” Kukowski said of the varying number of deputies present. “This is extra for us, this is extra duty.”

For a large concert, like Friday night’s Toby Keith show, there will be 20 to 25 deputies and administrators present. They will be spread out across the fair with a detail at the show itself and the entire administrative staff present.

For other times, like where an audience has to sit in the bleachers or a chair and is otherwise largely immobile like a race or a similar event, the department may have more of its deputies performing traditional duties than on busier and rowdier nights.

Concerned fairgoers can either wave down a deputy or go to what the department has dubbed “Fair Base,” which is a mobile office located at the main gates next to the Community Ambulance booth.

“People go to enjoy themselves and have a good time and that’s what we want them to do … but be safe,” Kukowski said. “The public has been very good. They’ve been very cooperative, if they see something they report it. They’ve been very friendly, as well.”