Coast Prepares For Terrorist Threat

The threat of terrorism is making an impact on Fourth of July celebrations here on the Coast. On Tuesday President George W. Bush encouraged Americans to celebrate this Independence Day, but at the same time be vigilant against terrorists.

For the past five years, Gail Thrasher has had a booth here at Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in Gulfport, but this holiday she has more on her mind than selling decorative car tags. She's thinking about the 4th of July terrorist threat.

"You listen to t.v. and that's all you hear is that things are gonna happen on the 4th so you just hope that they're looking in the right direction," said Thrasher.

Organizers held several meetings with Gulfport and Harrison County law enforcement to discuss ways to improve safety. One decision was to put the police compound closer to the Pavilion where some 17,000 people are expected to congregate.

"The police station stayed over here instead of moving up to the road like they were going to do originally, they gonna have extra patrolmen on duty, they'll have horses that will be duty, you'll have undercover men that will be on duty," said Rodeo Executive Director Russell Elliott.

Elliott says only the gates with officers posted will be open so to better control access. Police won't give specifics on all of the safety precautions, but say most people won't notice them.

"There's not gonna be a lot of visible changes going on, just fisherman coming in the back gate," said Sgt. Alfred Sexton of the Gulfport Police Department.

"You may have people look in ice chest, visual type screening things that may be going on but nothing really that you'll see a major difference from years past," said Sexton.

Sexton says police will be enforcing their traffic plan during the heavy traffic this Fourth of July. He is encouraging people to be patient and courteous.