Labor Day weekend was a record breaker for the Eastern Idaho State Fair. On Sunday, more than 22,000 visitors came through the turnstiles for food and fun.
Last year’s record for the same day was just more than 19,000.
With all those people comes the occasional problem. That’s where fair security comes in.
Dave Frei’s day job as a sergeant for the Idaho Falls Police makes him a worthy candidate for superintendent of security for the fair. His team is a cool 45 off-duty police officers from Bingham to Madison County. It’s a brawny group with plenty of street smarts.
“We have a real professional force that’s also very diverse,” said Frei.
Detectives, patrol officers, even SWAT guys sign on to work the fair.
“We have jailers who know every bad guy,” he said.
It takes a combination of muscle and mind.
“We have guys trained in every discipline there is in law enforcement,” said Frei.
Sometimes — in the moment — nothing is more important than finding a lost kid.
“We have on average 15 to 20 missing kids a day,” said Frei.
So officers are working with Safe Place, passing out special stickers to kids for information on what to do if they wander.
“We’re able to broadcast descriptions of kids to all the officers,” said Frei.
Speaking of descriptions — hope these guys don’t get yours from a vendor. There are a total 18 security cameras to keep an eagle eye on the fairgrounds. Officers check in with vendors regularly for reports of shoplifting.
“We try to contain the situation, and then we call in Bingham County who actually has jurisdiction here to come in and work the case,” he said.
Frei said officers will often take vacation time to work at the fair.
The wage is typically lower than their regular jobs, but the officers are allowed to work longer days.