Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 19, 2013

Walking the line between safety and risk


—  The Elkhart County 4-H Fair is underway, which means thousands of people will be on the fairgrounds concentrating on having fun, eating fair food and meeting old friends. Criminal activity is far from their minds. Fortunately, we have many others on hand who are keeping their eyes open for risks to fairgoers.

As we chronicled in Thursday’s edition, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department and the fair’s security staff are coordinating surveillance on the fairgrounds. We are glad they are.

It was just over a week ago that three teenagers were arrested after people attending the LaPorte County fair reported hearing the teens talk about setting off an explosive device near carnival rides. Two quick calls to 911 ended in the teens’ arrests and the destruction of a home-made explosive device that the county prosecutor said could have caused fatalities.

The lessons to be learned from this disturbing incident is that some people have no sense of right and wrong, and what they consider a fun prank can kill people. We also learned that fairgoers who were aware of what they were seeing and hearing were the first, and best, line of defense against this criminal activity.

As the Elkhart County 4-H Fair begins today, police officers and the fair’s security officers are patrolling the fairgrounds. Hundreds of other fair volunteers, from ticket takers, maintenance staffers and barn supervisors, have been briefed to be on the lookout for something unusual, something out of place. This type of warning is nothing new for fair folks. Ever since the attacks of 9-11 they, as well as most other Americans, realize everyday events can become the target for someone’s anger and warped thinking. But the greater risk these days is from someone who learned how to build a device by researching it on the Internet.

We don’t think the LaPorte incident should be ignored by fairgoers, but we also don’t think it should keep people away from the fair or other large events in our local communities. We are confident that plenty of security is in place at the fair and the officers in charge and on patrol know their duties well. This commitment to duty and protection allows our local fairgoers to continue to enjoy this annual spectacle of sights, sounds and taste.

We often take the service of these members of our community for granted, but we shouldn’t. Many are volunteering their time to keep fairgoers safe and that commitment deserves recognition. So please give a quick “thanks” to officers and security personnel during this year’s fair. They deserve all the thanks we can give them.