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Saturday's Thunder Over Louisville Will Have More Security 'Than Ever Before'

Security at this year’s Thunder Over Louisville  will be boosted like never before.  More than 1,100 police officers from Louisville Metro Police Department and several other agencies will be working at the aircraft and fireworks show."More than ever before," LMPD Chief Steve Conrad said Monday during a news conference.Conrad is also asking parents to accompany their children to the event and report any missing children as soon as possible.“Safety starts with proper parental supervision,” he said. Police will be on horseback, on bicycle, on top of buildings and on foot throughout the Waterfront Park area when the estimated crowd of more than 600,000 floods downtown Louisville for Thunder.Conrad said some police officers will wear street clothes.Also, a group of 40 volunteers in bright neon shirts will also be in the crowd hoping to diffuse any situation that may occur.  These "ambassadors" will not be looking to substitute for police, but will able to summon authorities if needed.“The thing that makes Thunder truly unique is that there is no day, no day of the year, that we are better prepared downtown to handle a problem,” Conrad said.Other law enforcement working Thunder will come from Kentucky State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Louisville Metro Corrections, Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky Alcohol Beverage Control.Conrad is also calling on attendees to report anything suspicious.“We are going to be down there doing whatever we can to keep it safe, but this is a community event and it is going to be a community effort to keep it safe,” he said.  “If you see something, say something.”

The increased security comes in the wake of violence by groups of teenagers  in the downtown area and a recent threat of gun violence at Thunder that led to an 18-year-old being arrested. (Conrad said the man responsible for the threats should remain in custody through Thunder and no other threats have been made.)The installation of 26 security cameras around Waterfront Park should also be completed by Saturday, another security measure sparked by recent violence.Conrad said multiple officers will be monitoring the cameras.As for closures, several streets will be shut down to make way for parking and emergency crews.  The Clark Memorial Bridge will be closed beginning at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and reopen on Sunday.  The Big Four pedestrian bridge will be shut down at 11 a.m. Saturday and reopen following the show.Interstates will also be rerouted prior the evening activities.For a complete listing of street closures, reroutes and show information, click here.Work associated with the Ohio River Bridges project will cease on Thunder day and security will be patrolling restricted construction zones, said Max Roland, project coordinator for Walsh Construction.Conrad said as long as the weather cooperates, everything is expected to run smoothly.“We have many, many plans to address any contingency you can imagine,” he said.  “Thunder is a day we are truly ready for anything.”

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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