PHOENIX — The North Carolina Tar Heels weren’t the only ones who took home a victory during Final Four: Arizona law enforcement officials said they won a lesson in safety following the event-filled weekend.
Col. Frank Milstead, head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said law enforcement officials were able to keep the estimated 400,000 visitors safe by following one simple security lesson: Keep it secure, but in the background.
“It really doesn’t matter what the major event is,” Milstead said. “It’s about keeping the public safe. And it’s about the collaborative efforts between local, state and federal law enforcement.”
Milstead credits the success of the busy weekend, which included events in downtown Phoenix and Glendale for Final Four, a Pride Festival and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ season-opener, to the collaboration between the Valley’s police and fire departments.
“There’s other places in this nation where [police departments] don’t even get along with their fire department,” Milstead said. “Our fire department is one of our closest, dearest partners. They see things from a different vantage point.”
Law enforcement agencies in the Phoenix area trained for months beforehand, practicing various safety scenarios, checking crowd control situations and traffic patterns, and making sure they had enough security to handle the crowds.
This preparation, Milstead said, allowed the officials to properly prepare for any situation that could come their way.
“It’s really about threat mitigation [at the end of the day],” Milstead said. “Somebody with resolve may be able to do something…but [the police department’s] job is to mitigate all those to the degree that we’re comfortable with the event.”
While there were no major security incidents that occurred at the Final Four or any of its related events, a driver lead police on a chase through the Phoenix area shortly before the NCAA championship, which backed up traffic for at least a mile.
However, fans still hailed the Final Four weekend as a slam-dunk event.
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