After hearing about a possible fight between two outlaw bike clubs, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office and a number of other local law enforcement agencies quickly secured the area where POW*MIA Rally attendees were camping.
Micah Clifton has been going to the rally for four years. For him, this year’s was more memorable than most, but for the wrong reasons.
“(The bike clubs) were parked there, having a good time,” said Clifton. “Then all of a sudden, by 1:30 in the morning when everybody had already gone home, they bring a huge police force. It made no sense.”
In response to a potential threat involving bike clubs the Mongols and Brother Speed, local law enforcement agencies came to secure the campground.
Bearcats and floodlights were used, and the main entrances to the Bannock County Fairgrounds were blocked.
Clifton likened the experience to his time in a detainee camp in Iraq.
Organizers of the rally take security very seriously and met with Bannock County this year to make sure everything was secure.
“At the end of the day, the police are going to do what they feel like they need to do to protect and serve,” said Hiedi Young, executive director of the POW*MIA Awareness Rally Corp. “Nothing happened, and had something happened we would’ve wanted them to be here.”
Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said he would do it again under the same circumstances, but he understands why campers would be upset.
“They didn’t have all the information that we had and I was acting based on the facts and the intelligence that was coming to us from very reliable sources,” said Nielsen.
In comparison to past years, Young said the number of police at the rally this year was low until Saturday’s incident.
The Bingham County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police, the Chubbuck Police Department and the Inkom Police Department also sent officers to the campground.