As Oakdale’s beloved rodeo week activities hit full stride, local law enforcement professionals are stepping up their coverage in an effort to insure those in attendance have a great time and go home in one piece. According to Oakdale Police Chief Scott Heller, while the event is expected to increase the city’s population by 50 percent, police and safety crews will match that increase.
“Of course all our available officers will be on duty, but we’ll get a lot of help from all the other local law enforcement resources as well.” Heller said.
The chief said he won’t use the “all hands on deck” cliché, but added everyone from civilian volunteers and Explorer scouts, to the professionals from the Public Works Department will be putting in an extra effort to enhance the rodeo experience.
“We’ll have assistance from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office, the California Highway Patrol, and other police agencies in the area,” he explained.
According to Incident Commander, Police Sergeant Ben Savage, this is a favorite time of year for many of the members of the force.
“We really look forward to Rodeo Week,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to work together with other agencies and provide a safe and enjoyable event.”
Savage went on to praise the younger volunteers from the local Explorer unit and the sheriff’s Explorer unit.
“We do so many road closures for the parade, I really don’t know how we could do it without the Explorers,” he said.
This year, the 66th Annual Oakdale Saddle Club PRCA Rodeo festivities kicked off Tuesday with a team roping event for local amateurs. Today’s Cowgirl Luncheon at the Gene Bianchi Community Center is a sold-out event, but activities continue throughout the week, building up to this weekend’s rodeo competition.
“We will have a fairly strong presence at the rodeo grounds,” Heller said. “We’ll be working out of our mobile command center there, and I believe we will be holding some shift briefings there at the rodeo arena.”
Heller said some of the tools they are expected to use to ensure the safety of rodeo fans are saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints. “I can’t say enough how important it is to have the support we’re getting from our fellow agencies,” he stressed. “What we really want is for everyone to be safe and have a great time.”
Those sentiments were shared by Savage, who has been with the local police force for 17 years.
“We just want to have a great week of fun and see everyone get home safe and sound,” Savage said.