Law enforcement agencies are making themselves known in and around the Colorado State Fair this summer. News 5 took a ride with the Pueblo Police Department on Sunday evening as officers worked to keep fairgoers safe.
Our escort was Officer Roger Schneider, a 17-year law enforcement veteran who’s been with the Pueblo PD for the last two years.
“Obviously, one of the things you think about is the people that do live here year round and how it impacts them with this huge influx of visitors,” Schneider said as we drove around the neighborhood immediately surrounding the fairgrounds.
After getting out of the squad car, it took less than 10 minutes to record video clips of uniformed officers on bicycles, riding motorcycles, driving in golf carts or walking around on foot.
Pueblo Police Sgt. Dennis Furbush explained that this police presence is strategic.
“We want to proactively head-off people stealing things from cars or causing people problems for folks who are just here to enjoy themselves at the fair.”
Proactive policing means everything from writing tickets for illegally parked cars to helping out people who’ve had too much to drink. Officer Schneider said several people came up to their police recruiting booth here last summer.
“We had some people with medical emergencies or lost children and so when that would happen they would come to our booth and say, hey, can you help us, I’ve lost my parents, or I’ve lost my child.”
The extra police presence is also psychological. Two summers ago, a 19-year old man named Daniel Gonzales was killed in a drive-by shooting that officers believe was gang-related. It happened just before midnight in a parking lot directly across the street from the fairgrounds.
“We like to have a police presence,” said Sgt. Furbush. “We want to make sure people feel safe when they see the police around.”
This proactive policing plan is no different than what would occur during any other large public event, like the Chile and Frijoles Festival. The only exception is that the State Fair lasts a little longer. Sgt. Furbush said the mission remains the same: keep the public safe.
“We just want everyone to come into town and enjoy themselves and have fun, relax while they’re here and hopefully just have a good time at the fair.”
Gonzales murder remains unsolved. If you have information that could help investigators, then you’re asked to call the police. Anonymous tips can be made with Pueblo Crime Stoppers by calling 719-542-STOP (7867).