City reviews Balloon Fiesta security plan in wake of Las Vegas shooting | KOB 4

City reviews Balloon Fiesta security plan in wake of Las Vegas shooting

Jen French
October 02, 2017 10:24 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In four days, the City of Albuquerque will host one of the biggest outdoor events in the world: the International Balloon Fiesta.


In the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting, the Albuquerque mayor’s office, city police department and Fiesta organizers are taking steps to tighten security before the launch. More than 20 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will be at Balloon Fiesta Park.

"Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the people of Las Vegas, Nevada," Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said. “I was with Mayor [Carolyn] Goodman a couple of months ago. She's a great woman and she's struggling with a difficult time."

Balloon Fiesta organizers have taken steps to limit what vehicles can drive onto the launch field.

"There's always been an evacuation plan for Balloon Fiesta," Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden said. "One of the things we look at is: what are the threats? Sometimes those threats are very simple like a butane tank rupture or something to that effect. We have plans in place for different types of incidents."

Balloon pilots like Murray Conrad aren’t worried. His balloon and wicker basket weigh more than a ton. It’s capable of carrying 12 passengers. Conrad, himself a retired APD commander, said he’s never had a serious crash.

"There's also a rapid deflation port," he said. "Now when you pull that, the entire top goes into a wad and you will land."

Balloon Fiesta spokesperson Tom Garrity said balloon-chasing crews have been vetted and gone through background checks. No guns are allowed at the event, and law enforcement will be checking bags at entrances.

"If you see something, say something," Conrad said. "[After] the massacre in Las Vegas, we’re ready. We know that something can happen and they're going to be taking a lot of precautions."


Jen French

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