By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The former chief of the Cheyenne Police Department is not too concerned about possible safety threats during the city’s Christmas parade on Saturday.
While Brian Kozak was in charge of the police department, he said he and his department worked on measures to prevent incidents such as the one seen Sunday in Wisconsin, when a sports utility vehicle was driven into a Christmas parade, killing five people.
“We started preparing for instances like Wisconsin a few years ago, after I noticed several events like this around the country,” Kozak, now a candidate for Laramie County sheriff, told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “Some of them were intentional, but not all of them were. So we started thinking about how we could prevent something like that happening, not just for the general parades, but Cheyenne Frontier Days, too.”
On Sunday evening, a car drove through a crowd of participants and spectators at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. At least five people were killed and 40 were injured.
According to CNN, the driver has been identified as Darrell E. Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee. He faces five charges of intentional homicide and more charges are possible.
Over the last few years, the Cheyenne Police Department has stepped up its security forces at big events in the city. For example, Kozak said that large dump trucks filled with sand were stationed around the Cheyenne Depot Plaza for the CFD parades and pancake breakfasts.
“A few years ago, we partnered with the city’s recreation department to purchase these heavy steel barriers that can stop a car,” he said. “We spent close to half a million dollars to purchase them. Obviously, we can’t put them all along the routes, but we can put them in places where a car might be able to pick up more speed and hurt more people.”
Kozak said that while people may believe that Cheyenne and Wyoming are immune to events similar to that seen in Wisconsin, he said it is important to be vigilant in order to keep residents safe.
“This Christmas parade coming up is going to be safe, because the police will have an incident command team out there and there will be a good contingency of police officers,” he said. “But you’ve always got to be ready and prepared. If you’re on the parade route, keep an eye out for a good barrier you can jump behind, if you need to.”