With help from local law enforcement, organizers of the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden are enhancing the August event’s security measures to prevent a repeat of the gang-related shooting last year.
“Our goal is simply to provide the best opportunity for safe, family friendly entertainment in the area,” said fair manager Jim Baron, in a press release.
Baron said staff at this year’s fair will refusing entrance to known gang members and station law enforcement officers on the fairgrounds to deter and prevent gang activity.
Both uniformed and off-duty law enforcement officers, along with private, uniformed security officers, will also monitor the fairgrounds for criminal behavior.
Video surveillance of the event will also be substantially increased, allowing for nearly complete coverage of the grounds.
Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said local gang activity had increased over the past several years. There are more than 350 known gang members in Whatcom County, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“I believe the fair board and management are taking this problem seriously and are implementing strategies that will help ensure fairgoers remain safe,” Elfo said. We are very pleased with the support and cooperation they have shown.”
Chief Jack Foster of the Lynden Police Department agreed.
“Fairs and major entertainment gatherings across the nation have been experiencing what we experienced last year,” Foster said. “By taking decisive action and a team approach, we are confident we are taking necessary steps to provide for public safety and not impact the great family event that so many in our community have come to enjoy.”
Early this year, a 16-year-old gang member was sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting three people at the 2011 Northwest Washington Fair. The shooter pled guilty to one count of first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and one count of second-degree assault.