Law enforcement agencies are planning for substantial staffing increases in Casper this weekend as Saturday’s outdoor rally featuring former President Donald Trump is expected to draw up to 20,000 attendees.
Rebekah Ladd, public information officer for the Casper Police Department, said her department has been coordinating with state and federal law enforcement agencies, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office to provide coverage for the event.
Ladd said her department plans to have double the number of staff working that it typically would on a Saturday afternoon and evening, in addition to a number of staff ready on-call.
All other security at the event will be provided by Event Strategies Inc., the event management company organizing the “Save America Rally,” she said.
Ladd would not comment as to how many Casper Police Department staff will be working the rally itself due to safety concerns and did not have a number for how much the additional payroll cost will be to the department.
She said a standard number of officers will be patrolling the streets of Casper outside the event.
“We’re preparing for an influx of visitors to our town with an appropriate staffing level,” she said.
Lt. P.J. Cross said Wyoming Highway Patrol will have all seven members of its Casper division staff on duty Saturday afternoon and evening during the rally, as well as members from other jurisdictions available on call.
On Monday night, his staff was still putting together travel mitigation and closure plans for the area surrounding the Ford Wyoming Center, the venue for Trump’s appearance.
Since the event is taking place within the City of Casper, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office will not have any additional deputies on-staff, but it will provide two members of its Emergency Management System team to the rally and will have “numerous” EMS members on call, said Kiera Grogan, public information officer at the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office.
Grogan said the department is planning for “the biggest of the big emergencies.”
Because entry to the event is free, Cross said it is very difficult to predict how many people will actually turn out.
“He’s (Trump) been to more rural places than here and had more people than that so we really have no idea what to expect,” said Cross.
The rally will start at 4 p.m. but Trump is not scheduled to take the lectern until 7 p.m.
Cross said the Highway Patrol will close eastbound travel on Events Drive from the Interstate 25 South onramp to the Ford Center around 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to alleviate potential clogging issues after Trump stops talking.
“We just want to keep it flowing,” Cross said.
Cross said there will be other traffic mitigation steps implemented and announced Tuesday morning.
It will be a busy weekend all around in Casper, with all three high local schools hosting their graduation ceremonies at the Ford Center on Thursday and Friday. Ladd advised residents to expect longer-than-typical traffic delays.
“These are very big events in Casper,” Ladd said. “A lot of people come out for the graduation ceremonies. We expect a very busy town.”
The state track meet was held in Casper last weekend, and Ladd said the summer tourist season is in full swing, a milestone she judges by how filled up the city’s RV and trailer campgrounds are. Grogan, likewise, said there are very few hotel and motel vacancies.
“It’s an interesting conundrum to have,” Ladd said.