The 2018 edition of Festival International de Louisiane will include increased police presence and video surveillance, as well as earlier ending times.
The heightened security follows a shooting last year in downtown Lafayette within an hour of the final Saturday night performance at Parc Sans Souci. The shooting occurred shortly after midnight on April 30 in the 400 block of Jefferson Street. One person died and two others were injured.
Reginald Thomas, deputy chief of the Lafayette Police Department, said performances at Parc Sans Souci will shut down no later than 10:30 p.m., while performances at other stages will be allowed to continue to 11 p.m.
Scott Feehan, the festival's executive director, said performance on all stages will end by 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights this year.
The earlier end times are necessary to avoid overwhelming crowds that result when festivalgoers leaving the last concert mingle with people arriving downtown to go to the clubs, Thomas said.
“When they are coming out to go to the nightclub, and it’s both crowds, it’s just too many people all over the place,” Thomas said.
The department for the first time is requiring officers to work overtime at the festival to achieve the desired number of patrols, Thomas said. He declined to provide that number, but said it is an increase over previous years. Downtown details are typically offered as voluntary overtime shifts, he said.
Officers working the festival will also have the benefit of stationing at the home of a planned downtown precinct. The precinct, at 205 W. Vermilion St., probably won’t be fully operational until late summer.
“A lot of times we have the mobile command bus down there and we are working from that. This way we are working from a building,” Thomas said.
The festival will be heavily and actively monitored, Thomas said, with cameras on every corner and officers monitoring the footage at all times.
“We are planning on having cameras everywhere this year,” Thomas said. “Somebody will be looking at it the whole time. It’s not like it’s just being taped.”
This article has been updated to correct the time of the shooting last year, and to include input from Scott Feehan