Police from around the county will be in Hermiston this week to keep an eye on the Umatilla County Fair.

Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan said his deputies will join officers from Hermiston, Pendleton, Stanfield and Umatilla, along with private security, to patrol the fairgrounds and surrounding areas.

“This is the Umatilla County Fair, so people from all parts of Umatilla County will come and enjoy that week,” he said. “That’s why we feel we can put the word out to other agencies.”

The county parole, probation and juvenile departments also will provide personnel to assist the sheriff’s office, and Walla Walla County will send deputies as part of an exchange. Umatilla County will return the favor at the end of August during the Walla Walla County Fair.

The number of officers at the fair at any given time will vary, but Rowan said incidents have generally occurred most during the evenings and the weekend.

“Usually, we’ll start out the week with around eight officers on the fairgrounds,” he said. “Towards the end of the week, Friday and Saturday night, we’ll have 14 to 16, sometimes 18 officers inside the fairgrounds.”

While drugs at the fair was a problem several years ago, Rowan said the crime rate has been low recently.

“Over the last couple of years, the number of incidents has really declined,” he said. “We’ll get a minor fight or something like that, but predominantly we’re looking for people who have jumped fences and trespassed in, a little bit of criminal mischief-type incidents where they are destructing the property.”

Rowan said the sheriff’s office is busy during the fair because it still has to address issues outside the fairgrounds. Overtime is usually accrued and absorbed by the various agencies, he said, but the fair is worth it.

“This is supposed to be a fun family event. It’s a positive thing for Umatilla County to have a fair,” Rowan said. “We have a great relationship with the fair board, and we’re there just to provide that service and ensure that when people come down to the fairgrounds that they have a sense of safety there.”

Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston said the multi-agency security presence at the fair is “a well-oiled machine.”

“Everybody works together, and they provide what they can,” he said. “We provide officers inside the fairgrounds. We also staff an officer to patrol on the north side and an officer to patrol on the south side of the fairgrounds.”

During fair week, Edmiston said HPD and other agencies will be performing “targeted enforcement” to help prevent crime at the fair.

“People that have a history of being troublemakers, I’d rather have them sitting behind bars than out wreaking havoc for our citizens and visitors,” Edmiston said. “We’re trying to be more proactive versus reactive.”

Hermiston will be rewarding youth for various good behaviors during the week of the fair with coupons for free small Slurpees from 7-Eleven for the company’s Operation Chill program.

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