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Police Layoffs Affect Riverfest Planning

Budget cuts are slicing into the number of police officers at this year's Riverfest.
/ Source: WLWT.com

WLWT.com

CINCINNATI --

Budget cuts are slicing into the number of police officers at this year's Riverfest.

The police department said changes won't hurt safety, but could make the ride home more of an adventure for festival goers.

Close to a half-million people are expected to come to the Ohio River banks and turn downtown into a gigantic parking lot.

Because of budget cuts, there's going to be a whole lot less police around to try and keep things moving.

When the fireworks in the sky are over, the fireworks on the road begin.

"It seems like the people that are walking do a lot better than the people that are driving. You just walk right on by them. Smile, wave -- they're all frustrated," Rick Healion said.

Lt. Col. Vince Demasi is asking the public for patience.

"If you come down there with the idea that, you know, (you're) just going to zip in and zip out, it isn't going to work and you should just watch it on TV. It would probably be a lot better for you," Demasi said.

The colonel said cutting out traffic control just makes sense. Things are so congested leaving the fireworks there isn't much for police to do.

"Again, it's just too many cars in just too small of an area. That's kind of where we figured that no matter what we do, we really can't fix it," Demasi said.

He suggested the people arrive early and stay late.

"People, realize there's 400,000 people that come here, we're not going to be in a rush when we leave," resident Sharon Winhoven said.

Police said the number of officers patrolling the crowds at Riverfest will not change despite the fact 138 police officers will be officially laid off on Sunday.

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