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Minnesota State Fair Police to get help from Ramsey County Sheriff's Office

An official said that the RCSO is looking to provide up to 40 deputies per day, not including the 30 troopers returning this year to staff the gates.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Officials with the Minnesota State Fair and its police department have requested assistance from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office as they anticipate missing their recruiting goal by more than 100 officers.

In a letter to Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher last week, State Fair Police Chief Ron Knafla and State Fair Deputy General Manager Brian Hudalla said they had only recruited about half of the number of officers they were intending to have on staff for the fair, which kicks off Thursday, Aug. 25.

"Our efforts have been successful, and we currently have 99 sworn officers and are continuing to recruit and hire," the letter reads. "Our target number is 200 but we anticipate that we will fall a bit shy of that number.

"Please accept this letter as an official request for assistance from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to support our efforts to ensure the health and safety of State Fair attendees under Minnesota Statute 12.331."

On Wednesday, Deputy Alex Graham with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the department would be assisting State Fair Police, calling it an "emergency request for mutual aid."

"It's not to say that the fair hasn't done everything in their power, but right now it's the hardest time for recruiting retention of law enforcement in the state of Minnesota history," said Deputy Graham. "Right now, we're responding to the fair's request for assistance in supplying enough officers and deputies to make sure that everybody here at the Minnesota State has a great time -- and a safe time, more importantly,"

Deputy Graham said that the department is looking to provide up to 40 deputies per day, not including the 30 troopers returning this year to staff the gates. He also said the Sheriff's Office will also have special active shooter response teams inside and outside the fairgrounds.

"So you may see some officers with rifles on the external of the fair -- to deter any issues but also to respond, because every second does matter," Graham said. "We're also going to be providing some services that we're not at liberty to discuss right now."

The State Fair Police Department was reinstated on Jan. 1, 2022 after the fair's agreement with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) expired Dec. 31, 2021. RCSO took over security for the fair back in June after State Fair Police Chief Paul Paulos retired.

In a statement from fair officials, they say they're "confident" that they'll have enough officers by Aug. 25.

The full statement reads:

The Minnesota State Fair has a longstanding tradition of working with a variety of law enforcement agencies and experts on the local, state and national level to provide safety and security for the annual State Fair. 

This includes everything from the Minnesota State Patrol providing a presence at the gates, the St. Paul Police and Fire Departments providing support and many others at the local, regional and federal levels. As needed, we may also request support from the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office; this is another example of our efforts to provide the safest possible event for all who attend. Our recruitment is going well and we are confident we will have enough officers when the fair begins.

Police and law enforcement officers patrolling the State Fairgrounds are an integral part of our safety and security plan. In addition to officers, we have several partners and components in place to provide an outstanding experience for all that are part of the fair.

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