Hillsborough County deputies issued a warning Friday for potential trouble makers at the Florida State Fair: you won't be warned, and you will be arrested if you break the law.
This comes following a wild stampede of students that forced authorities to throw out 99 kids and arrest a dozen more one week ago.
"Our resources got stretched thin ejecting people and escorting them out," said Col. Jim Previtera. "That's forced us to kind of draw a line in the sand, if you will, and if you engage in criminal conduct, we've got no choice but to arrest you and remove you from here."
The sheriff's office added a "substantial" amount of deputies to the 200 already planning to staff the fair; many of the additional deputies will be undercover.
A surveillance company also loaned the department state-of-the-art security cameras that can produce high-quality images and help deputies pinpoint problems to speed up response time.
So-called "Skywatch" towers have been repositioned to give the sheriff's office a better bird's-eye view of the park.
"If something happens tonight and we need to allocate resources, I don't want to divulge everything that we're doing, but quite frankly, we'll be within seconds of anything that's going to occur here on this property," said Capt. Kyle Cockream, who was among those who responded to the dangerous scene last week. "I think a lot of the herd mentality started to take place. A lot of the kids that were involved with that, they got caught up in the moment, a lot of peer pressure."
Investigators have said several people were hurt during the stampede and detectives are still asking for victims to come forward.
From FOX 13's Josh Cascio:
Friday evening, the only screams the Jennings and Gonick families heard at the fair were the good kind: their kids zipping and twirling on the rides.
"We've had fun, been here since 11 this morning," said Kerry Jennings.
"It is great I haven't seen anything go wrong," said Daniel Gonick.
The same can't be said for last Friday, when nearly 100 kids were thrown out of the fair after causing chaos and fights inside. The event was even forced to close early.
One of the teens, Andrew Joseph III, would later die after trying to cross Interstate 4.
All of the problems are forcing deputies to draw a line in the sand: no more ejections. If problems arise, arrests are coming.
"Our biggest goal is to make sure the public is safe. This is a very safe environment here," said Capt. Kyle Cockream with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
New, high-quality cameras are scanning the grounds, keeping a close eye on fair goers. Deputies are also more visible on foot, and even on horseback. Some are undercover as well. All are making sure a repeat of last week doesn't happen.
"I don't want to divulge everything we're doing, but we'll be there in seconds if something is going to occur on this property," Cockream said.
Families seem to appreciate the increased security.
"I think they're doing their job. We've seen a lot of them. It's been very family oriented today," Jennings said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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