LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) — “This is a safe fair and will be for the next ten days.”
Those are the words of Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan, who showed News 2 a rare glimpse inside the Mobile Command Center at the fairgrounds in Lebanon.
The combined Wilson County and Tennessee State Fair begins Thursday. Last year it was cancelled because of COVID-19.
The fair runs through August 21 and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend.
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Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said his department has trained for every eventuality and is prepared for a safe and fun experience.
“We’ll have enough people out here for visibility. Visibility goes a long way in our line of work, in crowds like this. And we’ll have people in uniforms. And some people you won’t see.”
Assistant Chief Deputy Lance Howell tells News 2 that dispatchers will be positioned inside the mobile command post along with emergency management and fair officials.
According to Howell, the dispatchers will be coordinating on alternate radio frequencies with units at the fairgrounds for quicker response to issues that could arise.
And then there’s the brand-new surveillance system. Wilson County investigators showed News 2 multiple 4K ultra high-definition cameras that cover every angle of the fairgrounds, from the front gates to the ticket booths, to the midway.
“We’ll have someone right here monitoring gates. We have cameras on all gates and ticket booths. So, the person sitting here will be looking for any type of disturbance. And we’ll have officers on the ground coordinating with this person in here and our dispatchers.”
Investigators won’t disclose how many cameras they have or where they are positioned, but deputies tell News 2 that this system being used for the first time will be manned full time by multiple people, watching the entire fairgrounds for everything and anything.
Sitting before the monitors, Howell toggled a joystick, zooming a camera around the midway.
“If I want to go to the ticket booth and there’s a problem, I can zoom in and come right up and see what is going on. Anytime you have eyes on what’s going on and the people and traffic and movements that gives us an advantage.”
News 2 pointed at a child’s ride, questioning what would happen if there was a disturbance there. Without missing a beat, Howell toggled the camera and began zooming in.
“First thing I’d do is zoom in and put a box on it.”
The box is a graphic overlay in the system that allows the operator to quickly zoom into the image with speed and clarity.
“I’d determine what’s going on and get officers dispatched to that location,” Howell added.
Sheriff Bryan said, “It’s just another set of eyes, it’s up high, and we’ll be able to see what’s going on.”
Lebanon Police are also working the fair detail, primarily handling everything from the gates to the streets, making sure traffic flows smoothly as possible.