Massive police turnout at Palmares civic festival

Nearly 1,200 Fuerza Pública officers have been assigned to security at the Festejos Cívicos de Palmares that is underway in that community.

Already the police coverage has paid off with 77 arrests, 42 of which were for drugs, said Wálter Navarro Romero, a vice minister of security. Some 20 of the arrests were for crack cocaine, he said.

Police officials have had extensive practice in providing security for festival goers because many have just finished a similar assignment at the Zapote festival grounds in San José.

Some 234 officers were on duty to make the initial arrests, Navarro said, adding that up to 400 officers will be assigned at one time to the big events at the festival. There are concerts, a carnival and a tope or horse parade. Some 30 mounted officers will be on duty for the horse parade.

Police are also on duty in the community of Palmares itself at parks, bus stops, access routes, among others, officials said. These officers are in addition to the many that the Policía de Tránsito has on duty. Traffic police are running checkpoints along the principal routes to Palmares. They said Tuesday that they were using a new radar device
with a camera to catch speeders. They also said they were operating on the San José-Caldera highway because motorists use that to reach Palmares.

Traffic police always make a large haul of drunk drivers each year because the festival contains beer gardens and hard drinks also are served. Many firms provide tranportation from the Central Valley and elsewhere.

Last year, police detained 301 persons on the festival grounds and confiscated two firearms and 417 doses of marijuana. They already confiscated a firearm this year.

The festival runs through Jan. 23.

The community’s Asociación Civica Palmareña that runs the festival said that it has its own security personnel working on the grounds, too. Even if someone has a permit to carry a firearm, such weapons are forbidden at the festival, as are alcoholic beverages from outside the grounds and glass bottles, said the association.

There are security cameras watching the crowds.

Many expats prefer to visit the festival during the day to avoid the crush of the mostly youthful evening crowd.

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