Williams Lake Stampede president Court Smith and RCMP Staff Sgt. Brad McKinnon have been collaborating for a couple of months on a security plan for the 95th Williams Lake Stampede, Thursday, June 29 to July 2, 2023.
While he could not go into the fine details of operational planning, McKinnon confirmed there will be a significant police presence and the goal is to ensure a successful, fun, family event and public safety.
“There will be some strategic enforcement activities as there have already been the last few weeks. We have been executing a bunch of search warrants at homes and put people on notice that we are out and about,” McKinnon said, adding he is very pleased with the work being done by the detachment’s general investigations unit and Cariboo Chilcotin Crime Reduction Unit.
Last year during the final hour of the Stampede as the bull riding was getting underway, Jordell Anthony Sellars shot two people inside the entrance to the grandstands, with many people witnessing it.
Smith asked McKinnon if there are any “elephants in the corner,” the public should be worried about and McKinnon responded “no.”
“The detachment has been very successful in the last few months putting the right people in jail and keeping them there. We know that the No. 1 way to prevent crime is through presence, through strong uniformed presence.”
Strong enforcement is a priority of his, he said, adding the RCMP are sending out a strong message they will not be putting up with “crap like last year.”
Victim Services is available to anyone who sustained trauma because of the shooting last year, Smith and McKinnon.
This year the Stampede has stepped up and installed high-tech cameras throughout the Stampede Grounds, for the safety of guests and to help the RCMP if there is an incident.
“We’ve got monitors in 18 or 19 locations and face-recognition cameras,” Smith said.
Synergy Security will be returning for the Stampede and checking every bag plus asking for ID, which they did last year. McKinnon will do a briefing with Synergy to go over some scenarios and let them know the RCMP will be there to deal with any criminal matters.
For the popular Let R Buck Saloon evening performances, the entrance will be moved to the main archway into the back of the grandstands.
There has always been lots of congestion so to alleviate that people will buy drink tokens as they enter through the archway.
Extra officers will be brought into Williams Lake for the long weekend as there will also be the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby tournament and Thunder Mountain Speedway Stampede Hit-to-Pass, Smoke Show, King of Hill and Stampede Racing.
B.C. Highway Patrol will also have a highly visible presence to protect the roads from impaired driving, McKinnon said.
The RCMP regular member recruiters and 9-1-1- operators will have a booth in front of the detachment during the Stampede Parade, transition to the street party before setting up at the trade show at the entrance to the grandstands on Saturday and Sunday.
“We are excited. We want people to come out and have a good time and to enjoy the rodeo and not worry about anything else. Pass the buck to us. Many of our families will be here enjoying it as well,” McKinnon said.
Smith said it has been a 12-month job and they are counting down the days.
They are still shy on volunteers if anyone is available.