Columbus Police plan increased security during Pride Festival

COLUMBUS (WCMH) –Columbus Division of Police Chief Kim Jacobs addressed security concerns for this weekend’s 35th annual Pride celebration, after the horrific mass shooting in Florida.

“While I can’t make any guarantees that other people won’t try to harm someone in the future I can at least allow people to rest assure that we will do everything we can to prevent that from happening,” says Chief Jacobs.

She says the police do not want people to be afraid to attend the celebration.

“We’ve been very successful at keeping activities large and small safe throughout the years,” says Chief Jacobs. “I understand those fears, but I don’t want people to change the way that they live their lives because when would you ever go back to live in your regular life? I don’t want people to always be afraid.”

Stonewall Columbus says they’re expecting 300,000-400,000 people to attend the festivities this weekend. The organization is spending about $30,000 on security alone.

“We’ve been up against a lot. We’re a community that is used to protest,” says Pride coordinator Lori Gum. “We’re a community that is used to harassment. I personally feel so confident about this weekend.”

Executive director of Stonewall Columbus Karla Rothan says the tragedy in Orlando is actually encouraging more people to come out and celebrate this weekend.

“I think that if you hide in the shadows and you’re fearful then they win, the bad guys win and we can’t have that,” says Rothan. “We will march and we will hold hands, kiss in public and you know what…everybody is just going to have to celebrate it with us.”

Chief Jacobs says they will have additional forces out this weekend, including undercover police officers, to make sure people see them and understand they’re there to protect them.

She says besides Pride, they will be adding more resources to other activities throughout the week. There is a visible increase in police presence in the Short North, as well.

“We’re paying a lot of attention,” says Chief Jacobs “We will continue to gather intelligence, continue to gather information throughout the week, continue to add additional presence as necessary and give people the opportunity to be a part of this and to enjoy the festival and the parade and whatever else they want to do throughout this week.”

Chief Jacobs also encourages people attending the event to be observant and if you see something, say something. She says they are also in touch with the FBI.

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