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Protecting the crowds at the 2018 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival

Posted at 7:09 PM, Mar 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-02 08:35:48-05

It’s year three for the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival.

Turnout is expected to be huge once again this year.

But how will law enforcement prepare for crowds as large as the population of the county itself?

“We are taking corrective measures and precautionary measures to try to deal with that, to identify any problems before they start,” says Okeechobee County Sheriff Noel Stephen.

Stephen says the tragedies in Las Vegas last year and most recently in Parkland factored into their safety plans this year. 

He declined to go into all the specifics, but he says they’re ready. 

“We got jersey barricades in place, we got undercover officers in place just in case the unfortunate happens.” 

The sheriff says once again, they’ll be on the lookout for drugs as well. 

The amnesty boxes, allowing attendees to drop their drugs before they walk in, no questions asked, are back again. 

New this year is law enforcement targeting another group. 

“We started an interdiction to try to concentrate on the vendors that were bringing narcotics," said Stephen. 

He says they’ve already confiscated drugs from those vendors and have made several arrests since Tuesday. 

“They were going to feed them food and drugs at the same time,” said Stephen. 

In all, 6 different law enforcement agencies and 60 officers will be keeping their eyes on the crowds, as festival goers keep their eyes and ears on the music. 

The festival ends on Sunday. General admission tickets are still available at a cost of about $300.