New London

Sailfest Organizers Talk About Large Event Safety After Recent Mass Shootings

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The shootings in Illinois and Denmark are the latest episodes of random violence that have many on edge about attending large gatherings.

The City of New London is preparing for tens of thousands of people for Sailfest, and they say security is a priority. There's currently no threat to Sailfest.

"I personally would be concerned right now just because of all the shootings lately. Unfortunately it’s the way of the world right now," said Doreen Newell of Suffield.

For Newell, enjoying the usual events that make summer special is a little different now following the mass shootings across the country and around the world that have left dozens of innocent people dead.

"It's sad that you can't go to a movie, go to a grocery store, go to a hometown parade," Newell said.

New London officials are getting ready to welcome 250,000 people this weekend for the return of Sailfest, happening for the first time since the pandemic.

Mayor Michael Passero said all police and fire department employees, and virtually all city employees, will be working to make sure things run smoothly, and more importantly, that everyone is safe.

"Unfortunately the times we're living in, you have to prepare for a mass casualty event."

-Mayor Michael Passero

Connecticut State Police, who partners with cities and towns for major event preps, said it's important for all spectators to recognize the reality in which we all live - and while they don't want people to stop living life, they need a new awareness.

"Paying attention to what’s going on and knowing if there’s something that’s happening just to get out of that as fast as possible in the safest way possible," Sgt. Christine Jeltema said.

Jeltema said in addition to staying aware, people should remember to run, hide, and fight. If a threat arises, run. If you can't run, hide. And if you're confronted by that threat, fight.

Law enforcement officials said that during events, citizens can be the biggest help to police. So if you're out and something seems wrong, speak up - it could be a matter of life and death.

"If you see something that’s out of place or you see something that doesn’t look right, say something to law enforcement or somebody that can go and check it out just to make sure. We don’t know what's going to happen in these situations, that’s why we want people to make sure that they are aware of what is going on around them," Jeltema said.

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