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Police will increase presence to keep Hoopfest under control

Local law enforcement is preparing for this weekend’s Hoopfest, one of Spokane’s largest events.

Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said she can’t comment on specific safety measures being taken, but said police will be in downtown Spokane in full force.

“You will probably see police officers everywhere,” she said. “We will probably have a very visible presence downtown, which is typical for this size of an event.”

One of the most common types of calls police get over the weekend involve people who have lost their temper on – and sometimes off – the court, she said.

“The main attraction is the competitive game of basketball, so you’re going to have a lot of competitive personalities,” she said. “Tempers are shorter. People are hot. They’re in a competitive game. They get upset. We just want to make sure everybody … gets along.”

With a gang-related shooting at last year’s Hoopfest and the attempted bombing of the Unity March in January still fresh on many people’s minds, DeRuwe said police are prepared to handle any ripples this weekend.

“Certainly, we’re taking those two recent events into consideration when we’re doing our plan,” she said. “But my message is still the same to the community: that the police department is there and we’re going to do everything in our power to have a safe event.”

She added that officers also handle many alcohol-related calls throughout the weekend.

“In the evening hours, once the games are all over, there are celebrations, there are people out having a good time downtown,” she said. “We see more people drinking and driving, which is unfortunate, but it happens.”

To more quickly process those suspected of driving under the influence, the Washington State Patrol’s Mobile Impaired Driving Unit will be on site.

Additionally, Trooper Troy Briggs said, “On Friday and on Sunday, we’re going to have our airplane up looking for dangerous speeders and erratic drivers.”

“It just makes it so we can cover larger portions of the county,” he said.

DeRuwe reminds Hoopfest attendees to be courteous to each other and report any suspicious or illegal activity.

“I think, as always, we have to be aware of our surroundings, and that is going to be the best bet to make them safe,” she said. “And if they see something that makes them uneasy, call the police. That’s what we’re there for. That’s our job.”

Additionally, DeRuwe said, no pets are allowed, and those who bring pets that are not service animals are subject to a $153 fine.