Downtown gears up for Fourth of July celebration
BATON ROUGE - Crews and vendors spent hours Tuesday building stages and stocking trucks in anticipation of thousands of people for the Fourth of July celebration.
Baton Rouge Police have assigned more than 100 officers to patrol downtown during the festivities.
"We're going to try to do everything in our power to make sure anyone that comes downtown with an idea that they're going to cause problems is identified and dealt with very very quickly," Lt. Don Kelly said.
Cops will patrol on foot, riding bikes, in the water, and in the air. The sheriff's office SCAT team, the West Feliciana Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety will assist Baton Rouge Police.
For a list of activities leading up to the state's largest firework show presented by The Advocate and WBRZ, click here.
Baton Rouge Police released the following warnings to those coming downtown:
Chief Dewayne White and the Baton Rouge Police Department are offering the following tips and information to help citizens enjoy a safe 4th of July holiday:
· Fireworks are illegal everywhere in the city of Baton Rouge, as well as all of East Baton Rouge Parish, and will be confiscated if found. Violators could also face criminal charges.
· Law enforcement will strictly enforce the law against anyone found firing a gun into the air.
· Patrols will be actively looking for drunk or impaired drivers on roadways across the city.
As far as the downtown 4th of July event and fireworks display:
· Anyone coming downtown for the fireworks show on the river should arrive early and not wait until the last minute. Downtown exit ramps may be temporarily closed off if traffic backs up onto the interstate.
· Parking should be plentiful but motorists should be aware that there are some ongoing construction projects and temporary road blockages, especially along River Road.
· No ice chests, BBQ pits, tents, or pets will be allowed to be brought into the festival grounds.
· Over 100 uniformed law enforcement personnel will be specifically assigned to the downtown area in addition to regular patrols. BRPD presence will also be supplemented by personnel from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, Baton Rouge City Constable, Louisiana Department of Corrections and Louisiana Department of Public Safety. In addition, there will also be many plainclothes officers who will be blending in with the crowds.
· Police will deploy officers on foot, bicycles and horse mounted patrols, as well as aerial surveillance. Technology will be utilized to supplement officers, including fixed and mobile cameras, microphones and night-vision equipment.
· The Sheriff and Constable are making every effort to make jail space available to facilitate a "zero tolerance" policy for criminal activity. This means anyone jeopardizing public safety, even for misdemeanor offenses, may be booked.
· Groups will not be allowed to loiter or gather after the fireworks show ends. Officers will actively assist in helping clear the area as quickly as possible once the fireworks display concludes.
· There will be a large police presence dispersed throughout the downtown area and mobile Command Posts will be parked and manned on River Road. Citizens should not hesitate to notify law enforcement immediately if they see or hear anything suspicious or that might indicate a potential problem.