Perry police won’t be going it alone in keeping the peace during RAGBRI’s overnight stop in Perry on July 22. They will also receive help from Iowa State troopers, Dallas County, six officers hired with a JAG (Juvenile Alcohol Grant) and additional officers hired just for the event. "We will have more than 24 certified law enforcement officers helping with RAGBRAI," said Assistant Police Chief Eric Vaughn, who serves as chairman of the RAGBRAI Law Enforcement Committee.
"All our own officers will be working 12-hour shifts on Monday and Tuesday," he said.
They have their work cut out for them.
Estimates show that Perry’s 7,800-population will rise by 25,000 people as riders and support drivers, as well as other visitors, arrive throughout the day on Monday, July 22. A number of streets will have to be closed to get the riders through town, traffic control will be a must, and keeping an eye on all those people making up the moving city that is RAGBRAI will be a daunting job. And that’s just the beginning. Officers also are needed to patrol the beverage garden and concerts at Pattee Park, the numerous campgrounds and more.
Vaughn was pleased to get the Juvenile Alcohol Grant, which will pay for extra surveillance in the beverage garden area and camp grounds. Even though the Beverage garden will be divided so the adult-beverage area is separate from a family and youth area, police want to be sure there are no youth laying their hands on alcohol at the event.
"Four troopers will be helping us in the beer garden area as well," he said. The additional officers hired by the police department are coming from Polk County, Waukee, Boone, Boone County, Ogden, Guthrie County, Granger, Harlan, Mitchellville and Carroll County.
While the police department absorbs the cost of the 12-hour shifts and additional work, the cost of the extra officers hired is paid by the RAGBRAI Committee.
The cost providing law enforcement to the community during RAGBRAI is approximately $15,000. However, that is offset with the JAG grant.
Vaughn said there will be no plain-clothes officers, with each agency’s officers wearing their regular uniforms. "We want people to recognize us as police officers," he said.
As the chairman of the law enforcement committee, Vaughn has to think about the "what ifs" and potential problems. However, he said, "So much of our job that day will simply be helping people."
To provide flow for the incoming cyclists, the police will begin closing some streets along and near where the riders will be coming into Perry. "We’ll be starting bright and early Monday Morning, between 5 and 6 a.m., shutting down some roads in town," Vaughn said. "There also will be roads closed coming into Perry, so figure out a route ahead of time if you need to drive out of Perry."
The biggest road closer will be Willis Avenue from First to Ninth Streets. The closures will be from 8 a.m. Monday through noon on Tuesday. Second Street will remain open, but one lane of First Street will be closed.
"Everyone who live son Willis will need to find a place to park if they need to get out from Monday through Tuesday," Vaughn said. "We will also be putting up some temporary no-parking signs."