Preparation Makes Perfect
Work for law enforcement and organizers did not end after the last of 150,729 reported patrons exited Churchill Downs’s gates following the Kentucky Derby 2019’s conclusion. Instead, preparation was already in motion to make 2020’s event bigger, better and safer than ever.
Law enforcement planning for each Derby begins during a debriefing process the year prior, according to Louisville Metro Police Maj. Andrea Brown and Lt. Jill Hume, who noted both internal and external components.
This year’s debriefing occurred about a week after the event, once everyone had recuperated, but memories were still fresh, and included all the law enforcement agencies and partners involved.
“During the debriefing, we discussed challenges and weakness with the overall event, and where improvements could be made,” said Brown. “This information was gathered throughout (Derby day) by commanders overseeing the event, after-action reports and from soliciting feedback via email from personnel who worked the event.”
A debrief meeting was also opened up for residents to voice concerns and complaints.
“We try to address the concerns of the community,” said Hume, noting, among those concerns, parking and traffic issues rise to the top.
Debrief meetings have led to solutions, such as the elimination of a walking bridge to elevate gridlock on 9th Street and Central Avenue and reallocation of pedestrian assistance, the addition of dump trucks as barricades to prevent vehicle rammings, bike response teams and addition turnstiles to avoid overflow into the streets.
“Always look to improve what you can do better, and adapt to what is going on. That’s the biggest thing,” Hume added. “Times have changed. It’s not that there’s been any credible threat to (the) Derby, but we have changed security measures and tightened them down. Just monitor what is going on and trends. Always look for vulnerabilities and how to fix them. Listen. Feedback is good.”