FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (FOX 9) - For the first time in decades, the Minnesota State Fair will not have its own police department. Instead, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office will take over law enforcement duties for this year’s fair.
Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board approved a plan to provide security at the State Fair.
The change comes after fair officials decided to dismantle the fair’s police force following police chief Paul Paulos’ retirement in May. The department normally had just a few dozen employees, but during the fair, it grew to one of the largest police departments in the state by hiring from other law enforcement agencies.
Under the new agreement, Ramsey County will provide 24-hour security for the fairgrounds. The plan calls for 178 officers per day at a rate of $80 an hour, with $100 an hour on Labor Day. The state's agricultural society will pick up the tab for law enforcement services during the fair's 12-day run, reimbursing Ramsey County for labor, which alone will total at least $1.6 million plus the cost of things like fair passes, parking, mileage and amenities.
State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer says the change also includes the addition of metal detectors at all gates – something they were planning on in 2020.
"I know it will make a big difference and help people feel more at ease and just do a good job of making sure we have a safe environment," he said.
You won’t have to empty your pockets, and bags will still be allowed inside. They will only be searched if they set off a detector.
There will also be eight de-escalation ambassadors available to respond to situations, as well as state troopers monitoring each entrance.
As of now there are no attendance restrictions or mask mandates in place at the fair. The general manager says they are working closely with the state to monitor COVID-19 cases. The fair runs Thursday, Aug. 26 through Labor Day.