Security to Be Tightened for Colorado Fair

Aug. 24--Local law enforcement agencies are joining forces to deter gang activity both inside and around the Colorado State Fairgrounds during the 11-day State Fair that opens at 10 a.m. Friday.

Sheriff Dan Corsentino and Police Chief Jim Billings on Wednesday said their departments are developing a task force in light of rising gang activity in Pueblo and two recent gang-related deaths.

The task force may not be assembled in time for the Fair, but sheriff's deputies and police promise to do their best to keep the Fairgrounds and its surrounding parking lots and streets safe from gang violence. They ask anyone with information about possible criminal activity to call the sheriff's department at 583-6250, or police department at 549-1200.

Cmdr. Phil Bue of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Department again will command security at the Fair. Bue said more than 300 people normally participate in security, but would not comment about the number of officers that will be on duty per shift for safety reasons.

Cmdr. Greg McCain has dealt with gang activity at the Fair for years. He said Corsentino has implemented new measures to curb gang activity and violence on the Fairgrounds. Among them are:

Groups of four or five unsupervised juveniles will be asked to disperse and, if caught gathered again, ejected from the Fair.

More uniformed officers will patrol the Midway, home of the carnival, which is a popular hangout for kids.

Fair staff have and will be educated to look for gang activity.

"We try to keep it a safe, family atmosphere because that's truly what the Fair's all about," McCain said.

Fair General Manager Chris Wiseman said this week that the yearly expo has not experienced serious gang problems, except a "fight or two now and then."

Also, visitors still will be searched prior to entering the Fairgrounds.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News.