BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The fatal shootings at the parade in Pass Christian have police bracing for the massive Mardi Gras crowds in Biloxi. Police are ready to put its parade security plan into motion.
Biloxi police expect between 60,000 to 100,000 people to line the streets of downtown Biloxi on Fat Tuesday. Every officer will be on duty. The tragedy in the Pass will be on their minds.
On Lundi Gras, royalty rehearsed for the Gulf Coast Carnival Association's coronation ball. On Fat Tuesday, they will reign over the biggest street party in downtown Biloxi. The preparations came a day after two people were gunned down at a parade in Pass Christian.
"It's very sad that something like that has to happen, but those things could occur. I can tell you that in Gulf Coast Carnival, we will have AMR throughout the parade. If there's an incident of any sort, we're able to deal with it," said GCCA Parade Chairman Bill Holmes.
"It is a terrible tragedy," said Biloxi Police Chief John Miller.
Miller said his officers are prepared for any crisis at a parade, including responding to active shooter incidents and mass casualties.
"Certainly we worry about that. This is something in Biloxi, we've laid a contingency plan in place and we've used it year after year after year. I guess some may think it's a little overkill. We don't think so," said Miller.
That plan puts officers and supervisors at various posts along the parade route.
"Things have gone very well. I think a lot of that is the way we handle the situation. When our officers get on post, they immediately start looking for people who may have had too much to drink already, try to curtail that, underage drinking," said Miller.
Seven other law enforcement agencies will send personnel, equipment and transport vehicles to assist Biloxi. The chief said he's fortunate his department has not had to deal with a parade shooting.
"We had the Neptune parade Saturday, very, very few problems, very, very few arrests. I think it worked very well, and that's what we hope for for Fat Tuesday also," said Miller.
"We don't expect anything but great weather, great crowds and a great experience when they go home," said Holmes.
New this year, 20 Marines from Keesler Air Force Base will help the GCCA with parade safety.They will be following the floats. And the police chief encourages everyone to be vigilant. If you see anything suspicious, don't hesitate to notify an officer.
Also, dress warm, be aware of traffic jams, keep a close eye on the little ones, don't bring pets to the parade, and don't over drink.