State Fair Security Team Train for Gun Scare

State Fair Security Team Train for Gun Scare
Safety Team Sign | Image by WFAA

The security team at the Texas State Fair was put through its paces on Friday, October 14, when some fairgoers reportedly tried to “create chaos” by initiating a false shooting scare, according to officials.

Dallas police officers arrived at the scene in response to a large crowd that came running out of the Fair Park gate around 8:50 p.m.

Viral videos from Twitter users show people panicked and confused amid rumors of an active shooter.

Thankfully, as Jeff Cotner, the director of security for the State Fair of Texas, explained to local news outlets, it took only “a matter of minutes” for his team to figure out that the situation was not a legitimate threat and to confirm that there were no active shooters and no injuries.

As a result, after the brief pause caused by the commotion, things were soon back to normal on the midway, as fair spokesperson Karissa Condoianis told local news outlets, with fairgoers lining up for rides and food stalls.

However, due to the incident, the fair did shut down at 10 p.m. — an hour earlier than normal.

The rapid response of the fair’s security team was likely due to the extensive training that the security team had undergone to prepare for all sorts of possible threats at the fairgrounds, according to Cotner.

Cotner, also a retired deputy chief of the Dallas Police Department, explained to members of the local press that his team’s preparations for the fair start every February, when they begin developing emergency procedures and guidelines.

Part of this involves “tabletop scenarios” during which all safety and security units for the fair, as well as members from the Dallas Fire-Rescue Department and the Dallas Police Department, convene to come up with appropriate responses to a wide variety of potential issues.

Demonstrating an abundance of caution in their preparations, Cotner’s security team even ran training exercises with the Dallas Police Department’s SWAT team.

Indeed, training exercises such as these likely helped prepare his team for incidents like that seen on October 14.

“When you actually practice it, you get a lot of meaningful takeaways, and we were able to do it this year,” said Cotner. “It’s a big team effort. We cover all aspects of our operations. We think about it all year long. We integrate those together.”   

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