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Safety challenges law enforcement face during 4th of July events

Safety challenges law enforcement face during 4th of July events

CLAWSON, Mich. (WXYZ) — As the nation reels from the tragedy in Highland Park, Illinois Monday, cities across metro Detroit are continuing their July 4th celebrations with heavy hearts and a heightened sense of alert.

From Clawson to Northville, it’s been a day full of activity in metro Detroit. From parades in the morning, to carnivals and fireworks in the evening, everyone is ready to celebrate the Fourth of July.

But in the wake of the tragic shooting just hours earlier in a Chicago suburb, there’s inevitably concern across the country. While law enforcement is prepared, open events pose a challenge.

“The problem is when you have an open venue like that at a carnival for example or a parade, you don’t have fixed points of entry,” said former FBI Supervisory Special Agent Andy Bartnowak, who previously worked in the Detroit field office.

Bartnowak has worked security for multiple major events in metro Detroit, such as the World Series, NCAA Final Four and the MLB All Star games. However, he says events like parades are challenging to secure.

“The bottom line is when you’re having a lot of people in one location and you’re not having a security point for them to enter, it makes it that more difficult,” Bartnowak said. “There’s no way you can really stop everybody and check everybody. So if somebody wants to come in there and cause… chaos and have a shooting, a mass shooting, it’s very difficult to stop.”

At their Fourth of July celebration, Clawson police was fully staffed with help from Michigan State Police, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department and a handful of local agencies who were all hoping to keep concerns at bay and make sure the day is celebrated as safe as possible.

“I think the most we as citizens can do is be situationally aware,” Bartnowak said. “Situational awareness is nothing more than being aware of your surroundings… If you see something that doesn’t look right to you, there’s a reason it probably doesn’t look right and that’s when you go and alert security or law enforcement.”