By CARL SMITH
As Starkville’s population swells with visitors in town for Super Bulldog Weekend events and the Cotton District Arts Festival, local law enforcement agencies say they will increase their presence and visibility through extra patrols.
Officials from both the Starkville Police Department and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office say more officers and deputies will be on the streets through the weekend. Both agencies will also ramp up DUI enforcement efforts.
In addition to routine citywide patrols, SPD Capt. Chris Thomas said his department will assign seven uniformed officers to the Cotton District during Saturday’s art festival.
“Both Friday and Saturday nights, we’ll have three DUI details out. (In previous Super Bulldog Weekends), we usually see many alcohol-related offenses. Most people are used to the noise, so we don’t get a whole lot of extra calls,” Thomas said. “Always have a designated driver (if you choose to drink) and use the university’s busing system when you can. It’s a great thing for this weekend. There’s absolutely no reason to drink and drive when you have free transportation.”
SPD Sgt. Shawn Word said the three DUI details will work in conjunction with two regular DUI officers, bringing the city’s total alcohol-specific enforcement to five officers for Friday and Saturday nights. Additional manpower is funded through a DUI-enforcement grant issued to SPD by the department of public safety. Word said sober drivers should also be sure to buckle up while driving over the weekend.
Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney said his department will “have as many people working this weekend” as it can.
“We don’t have any more men than we got, but it’s important to have a strong presence (during big tourism weekends),” Gladney said. “We’re shuffling deputies around and bringing some people in. We’ll have checkpoints around the county. With that large of an expected crowd, we’ll definitely be busy.”