Officials in Michiana work to make local events safe after tragedy in Waukesha

NOW: Officials in Michiana work to make local events safe after tragedy in Waukesha

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- There are at least three major parades happening in different states and counties in Michiana in the coming weeks.

While police say they could not have foreseen the tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin that happened over the weekend, officials here say they are working their hardest to keep parade goers safe.

“It’s definitely a tragic event. We feel for the families of those involved,” said Sgt. Brad Rohrscheib with the South Bend Police Department.

In Waukesha, five people were killed and at least forty-eight were injured after a SUV drove through a crowd of parade goers Sunday evening.

As authorities there investigate the incident, here in Michiana-- with three major parades happening in Dowagiac, South Bend and Elkhart-- police departments want to reassure the public that their safety is a top concern.

“We want to guarantee-- as much as we can—the safety of people that we invite to partake in our streets downtown," said Jessica McBrier, with the Elkhart Police Department.

Cities like Elkhart and Dowagiac had previously re-evaluated their safety plans, after seeing a trend of tragedies overseas, in the past four or five years.

Parade routes are now extensively planned, with intersections blocked off with either squad cars or water-filled barriers, that-- when filled-- can weigh up to a ton. The South Bend Police Department say they are employing similar tactics for their parades.

“We’ll definitely, prior to that event, go over the route, all the cross streets and assess everything, to make sure we can safely have the parade and keep all the spectators and participants safe,” said Sgt. Rohrscheib.

Because above all else, safety is the number one priority.

“These things are planned well in advance," said McBrier. "We have a lot of parties with relevant experience in terms of safety and streets involved to make sure the public is as safe as possibly can be.”

Elkhart's Winterfest Parade planners had a safety meeting to make sure the upcoming event was safe and secure, in light of what happened in Waukesha, and found that public safety officials had already had the necessary safety precautions in place to prevent a similar tragedy from happening. 

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