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Neighbors take safety into own hands during MN State Fair

People who live near the State Fair say they decided to organize and ensure safety themselves, while the St. Paul Community Ambassadors also patrolled every night.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Great Minnesota Get-Together has come to an end, and the neighbors who live near the fairgrounds are breathing a sigh of relief.

"It's so quiet!" Jennifer Victor-Larsen said with a laugh. 

Before the 12 days of fun began, Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington praised neighbors who were planning to take safety into their own hands.

"We'd like to see communities own their communities, and own their blocks and be aware and vigilant," Harrington had said.

Victor-Larsen, along with Cindy Mitsch and Kate McCreight decided they wanted to organize a community group to do just that. They gathered volunteers from the neighborhood and asked for help from the St. Paul Community Ambassadors. 

"They were on from five o'clock to midnight, and every night there were two shifts. And you know what? They really helped," Mitsch said.

They believe the difference is remarkable compared to previous years.

"Helping keep the flow, keep people safe, as well as get them unlost," Victor-Larsen said. "And then for bigger situations, the community ambassadors talking to youth; interacting; letting people know they're here."

All this despite the two shootings that took place the last two nights of the fair.

McCreight credits communication for helping everyone else feel safe.

"Knowing what's going on instead of getting on a Facebook feed or on a text chain and there can be a flurry of speculation," McCreight explained. "And being able to come in and say, 'This is what we know from a source like the police department.'"

"We had people that were running who were separated, and we could say, 'You're okay; let me help you find your car,'" Victor-Larsen added. 

In terms of addressing gun violence, Governor Walz said Tuesday morning that he's looking at the other side of enforcement as well.

"Making the case to our judicial branch — if someone is going to use a firearm in a crowded area where there's innocent people and children, there needs to be a heavy penalty for that," Walz said.

State Fair police declined to comment Tuesday and St. Paul police said there are no updates for the latest shooting. 

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