Police are briefed on Mardi Gras safety procedures

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Two hundred officers packed into a Biloxi courtroom Tuesday morning for a Mardi Gras briefing.  They listened intently as Sgt. Frank McKeny offered advice and instructions.

"Cuff the guy with your metal cuffs. When the man gets there, they'll put the flexicuffs on them," McKeny told the officers. "You know your backup won't be very far, we're real flexible."

After the briefing, officers were assigned their patrol areas and partners. Then it was time to hit the streets.

Capt. Drew Balius is an old hand at Mardi Gras parade route safety. He walked with a cool confidence, and knows what to look for. It wasn't long before he spotted a group of men with glass bottles.

"You all can't have the glass out here on the route, just put it in the trash can," Balius said.

Vendors need to have a valid permit, and they need to be checked.  But what is the biggest problem police face every Mardi Gras?  The answer is not surprising.

"Probably all alcohol related, underage drinking. And we try as early in the day as we can to identify all those people," Balius said.

Checking IDs is part of that process.

But for the officers on patrol, working on Mardi Gras is about more than just looking for trouble. They want to make sure their residents and visitors alike have a safe, fun time in Biloxi.

"I hope you all stay warm. Happy Mardi Gras," Balius said to one woman wrapped up in the blanket.

So during the first part of the day, all the planning, preparation and hard work resulted in a safe and enjoyable Fat Tuesday.

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