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Reassurances About Over the River


I hold two assumptions about Over The River, the art installation planned for 2014.  First, it’s going to happen.  We foresee no action by the Chaffee or Fremont County commissioners, or the courts, that will prevent or impede it.  Second, the authorities responsible for providing security and safety of the public will anticipate, prepare for, and successfully deal with any threat that might possibly arise.  This project, from initial construction stage to installation, public viewing, and deconstruction will be one of the safest public art projects of any size to be exhibited in Colorado.

Why am I so confident that our public will be safe during the project’s lifetime?  For one thing, Christo’s organization has a long and successful track record and their planning for this event, including providing for the public’s safety, has been extensive.  OTR’s spokesman, Miles Graham, has publicly disclosed many of these details.  Their website, www.overtheriverinfo.com, outlines others.

Furthermore, Colorado officials are not novices in the planning and execution of security for complex events like this.  Consider one of the more recent, the Democratic National Convention in Denver, an event fraught with possibilities for disaster, that went off without a hitch.  I was witness to that event as a volunteer supervisor for three days within the Pepsi Center and my undersheriff, John Spezze, was actively involved in the preparation and later, the provision of security services at the street level.  Mr. Spezze, who’s been around this block more than once in his long career with the Denver Police Department, has the highest confidence, as do I, that OTR will be as uneventful as was the DNC.

And last, although resources that Fremont County Sheriff Beicker and I possess as rural county sheriffs are in themselves quite inadequate to deal with a project of this magnitude, we both will have access to as many personnel and equipment as we may deem necessary to assure the public’s safety.  So vast are the resources available to us that the trick will be not in obtaining those assets, but rather in managing them and the various agencies that will provide them.

Because OTR will occur close to a major highway, Colorado State Patrol will have a significant role to play not only in controlling traffic but in providing general security of the event as well.  And they are quite experienced and exceptionally competent to do so.

Importantly, we will have access to intelligence resources from local, state, and federal agencies including theColorado Information Analysis Center, a joint federal and state operated fusion center that will alert us to any suspected hazards.   

 As with the officials at CSP, I neither support nor oppose OTR.  However, I have every confidence that our continuing preparations will assure our citizens a safe and pleasurable experience.