A strong show of police force will continue during and after this month’s First Friday event, Richmond County authorities say.
The increase in security is part of an action plan developed because of a July 6 shooting that wounded six people on Broad Street after the event ended. A task force recommended more coordination and stricter enforcement of street vendors.
“We intend on beefing up patrols, and we encourage folks to abide by the curfew law,” Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay said. “We will be prepared for whatever type of overcrowding arises.”
Authorities implemented the action plan for the first time during the August event. Efforts for this Friday were tweaked, mostly focusing on vendors selling food.
At August’s event, sheriff’s deputies could be seen consistently along Broad Street from Fifth to 13th streets. Police cars were parked on corners throughout the evening. The fire department and Gold Cross EMS also had people and vehicles downtown.
The event went on without any major incidents, and authorities said bad weather kept crowds from gathering after First Friday’s 9 p.m. conclusion as they had in previous months. Lightning started about 8:30 p.m., and rain followed an hour later.
This week, the Greater Augusta Arts Council met with the License and Inspection department, sheriff’s office and health department. Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative employees are distributing fliers to business owners with event guidelines.
“We are all on the same page as to who is allowed and who isn’t allowed,” said Sallie West, the outreach director for the arts
Starting in August, city officials made the License and Inspection department responsible for unlicensed vendors. West said the arts council is making large strides to ensure vendors know the guidelines for setting up booths.
“All vendors and businesses must work together to come to a mutual agreement so vendors are in front of open and operating businesses,” she said.