One of our busiest weekends of the year is just around the corner - Rod Run. It's always one of our highest volumes in calls for service. I thought it might be interesting for you to know the behind the scenes preparation that we go through each year.

The event draws probably the largest crowds for a single event in our county. The last time an actual count was made on a large scale was the Washington State Department of Transportation estimate of 120,000 people on the Peninsula alone. We were completely overwhelmed. As a deputy I remember total gridlock and the inability to respond in a timely manner to emergency calls. We've come a long way.

Working together over the years with the Beach Barons, the Ocean Park Chamber, the Board of County Commissioners, the cities of Ilwaco and Long Beach and you, the event has become better each year. It serves as a model of balance and people working together. The Beach Barons and their Rod Run have boosted our local economy over the years by extending one more "standing room only" weekend for our local businesses. All your efforts really are appreciated.

With the crowds come public safety challenges. We've been able to cope over the years by securing out-of-county grant funding from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to pay for the cost of additional officers from a county perspective. The city of Long Beach has brought in usually around 20 additional officers at their own expense. The Washington State Patrol has supplied additional officers for the event also through Washington Traffic Safety Commission funding. Last year our costs for the event were approximately $27,000. This year that grant was cut to $7,500. The Board of County Commissioners has assured me that this year the needed budget supplement will be available for a continued safe staffing level. Thanks.

We usually bring in officers from Lewis, Mason and Grays Harbor counties to help with event crowd control and to assist in handling county calls for service. A squad of Washington State Fish and Wildlife agents has the beach and beach approaches. The Washington State Patrol brings in two DUI squads and patrols the state highways. Long Beach Police Department and its additional officers patrol Long Beach and Ilwaco.

During Rod Run a command post has been established in our Long Beach office over the years. Extra telecommunicators from the Washington State Patrol and our Sheriff's Office work from a dispatch center that is set up also in our office. A corrections booking station is established at the command post as well. Two Department of Corrections buses specially outfitted to temporarily house prisoners are used to house arrestees until a transport to our jail can be arranged. The command post is staffed by supervisors from all the local agencies in order to better coordinate responses. Using the incident command system for Rod Run over the years has given all of us a chance to practice and coordinate working together on a larger scale than we normally do. It's been a good thing.

This year's event brings a couple of changes. We're using our Mobile Command Post vehicle as the actual incident command post. We plan to utilize it so that everyone can become more familiar with it and its communication gear. Also our telecommunicators and the Washington State Patrol's will not be at the command post as a result of staffing and budget issues. Our patrol division and our contracted out-of-county officers will again be pre-staged in zones on the Peninsula to cut down on response times through heavy traffic. We will utilize bike patrol units from Grays Harbor Sheriff's Office for traffic patrol in the event area in Ocean Park and rotate foot patrol units both on the Rod Run grounds and in Long Beach.

We're looking forward to being part of another great event.

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