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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Report to review the MN State Fair security effort this year and in the future

With this year’s Minnesota State Fair now a memory, the attention of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners now turns to a review of security efforts led by the County Sheriff’s Office and what role it will play — if any — in the future.

Last month, before the signing of the joint powers agreements between the county and the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, commissioners added a requirement that county managers review an action taken report about safety at the fairgrounds this year and discuss next steps. to call the stakeholders. .

The county’s two contracts with the Agricultural Society cover only this year’s 12-day fair and another for non-fair dates until 2021.

Security became an issue at the fairgrounds in Falcon Heights when this past spring the fair decided to disband its decades-old police department and instead turn to an outside agency to provide security. The Department of Public Security recommended that the sheriff’s office take the lead.

At Tuesday’s board workshop meeting, Scott Williams, deputy county manager for security and justice, said county staff are still compiling financial information from the fair, such as payroll data and sheriff’s department expenses. The report, which will also include statistics on staffing levels and crime, is expected to be formally presented to the board in early November.

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The commissioners backed President Tony Carter’s recommendation to reconfirm with the office of Gov. Tim Walz that state officials, including representatives from the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Administration and the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, were going to be part of the discussion.

“Otherwise, you know, with Ramsey County taking the responsibility of discussing this, by default we’re saying we’re going to be the future,” she said. “You know, we’ve played a huge role. But it’s a statewide responsibility.”

The Minnesota State Fair is a public corporation and a quasi-state agency, as defined by state law. The fair is governed by the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, which is responsible for the maintenance of the state-owned, 322-acre fairground in addition to funding the annual approximately two-week event.

Liability was a major concern for the commissioners prior to the signing of the contracts, and Walz assured them in a July 26 letter that the state’s administration department was working with the Agricultural Society to secure an insurance policy and would include the county. will be included as insurance. and “Reduce Risks for Ramsey County Taxpayers.”

In a July 26 letter to the commissioners, Walz called the county’s work “plausible and commendable” in developing a security agreement at short notice.

“The State Fair is an event of statewide significance,” Walz wrote.

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