Police Presence Is Designed To Keep Rodeo Safe

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The Payson Police Department, along with the Gila County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety, will bolster staffing to monitor the action-packed rodeo weekend.

The added personnel are not called in to put a damper on the festivities, but rather to keep everyone safe.

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Members of the Gila County Sheriff's Posse, along with representatives from other law enforcement agencies, are regular entries in the Rodeo Parade.

Payson Police Chief Don Engler said that his biggest focus during the four days of festivities is the prevention of accidents caused by alcohol consumption.

"Our officers will try and keep the roadways as safe as possible to ensure that we don't have a lot of traffic incidents," he said.

Engler said that he plans to increase both volunteer and certified police numbers, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

The work of volunteer police officers eliminates some of the extra hours that officers will be working throughout the weekend.

There will be 16 volunteer police officers assisting other officers in patrolling the parade and the traffic diversion routes, Engler said.

"That's a huge benefit to be able to do that," he said.

Town Engineer LaRon Garrett said that parts of Highway 87 in Payson, from Airport Road to Highway 260 and Longhorn Road will be closed to traffic during the parade on Saturday morning.

The normal highway traffic will be diverted to McLane Road.

Engler said that police officers will be stationed along the route to ensure public safety.

The speed limit on McLane is only 25, so drivers need to be cautious -- and patient -- as they circumvent the parade.

Officers will also be assigned to patrol the rodeo arena and surrounding grounds at the event center to assist in traffic control and monitor unsafe driving.

"I would appreciate the public's cooperation in obtaining a taxi or a designated driver," Engler said. "And their help in ensuring that everyone has a safe weekend."

With the event center and Mazatzal Hotel and Casino so close together, pedestrians make frequent trips from one to the other.

There are no expected closures near the event center or south of the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino on Highway 87.

Engler said that although the police department has participated in the actual parade in years past, it will not be participating in the parade this year.

"Our manpower is primarily secured on patrolling duties," he said.

However, other law enforcement personnel are likely to be part of the parade line-up.

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