Law Enforcement rallies to Festival

As thousands of people gathered outside Emporia for the 43rd Virginia Pork Festival, their safety and security were being guarded by law enforcement officers from several jurisdictions, all working together with the Greensville County Sheriff’s Office to ensure a smooth and successful festival.

Such smoothness doesn’t come without a lot of work behind the scenes, according to Greensville County Sheriff Tim Jarratt.

“It probably takes about six months to coordinate everything,” Jarratt said. “That long to get everything in place, and of course, the final couple of weeks before the festival there’s a whole lot to do.”

Jarratt and his staff coordinated with several area law enforcement agencies, including the Emporia Police Department, Sussex and Surry County Sheriff’s Offices, Emporia Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police and others to ensure there was adequate police presence to protect and control the enormous crowd that filled the Meherrin Ruritan Club grounds for the festival, held under calm and beautiful skies and moderate temperatures Wednesday.

Once officers and deputies arrive for the festival, they have to be sworn in as temporary deputies for the Sheriff’s Office in order to be able to operate fully as law enforcement agents at the festival, Jarratt said, which takes a little time. They are usually then paired with local deputies in order to ensure they don’t have to make court appearances if there are criminal infractions.

Officers and deputies prepare for various types of trouble, including fighting, disburbances, medical issues, and even terrorism.

“You have to prepare,” Jarratt said. “You hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”

The good weather could also have been a mixed blessing, Jarratt said, because moderate temperatures tend to lead to increased consumpton of both food and alcohol, though the Sheriff added there have no major problems at the pork festival for several years.

Considering the size of the crowd and the seriousness of the task of protecting all those people, Jarratt said cooperation between neighboring agencies is essential.

“We could not provide adequate police presence at this event without help from our neighboring agencies,” Jarratt said.

Jarratt added he’s very pleased to be able to say he enjoys good relationships with the agencies who helped with the festival, and was grateful for their support for such a large-scale endeavor.

“The support is great,” Jarratt said. “I feel very blessed to know that we can depend on each other, and we will continue to strive to maintain and strengthen those relationships.”

Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw agreed with Jarratt’s assessment of the strong bond between the City police and the Sheriff’s Office, and said the festival was an impressive event due in part to the cooperation and coordination of so many different guardians of safety.

“You can’t make it on your own in this day and age,” Pinksaw said. “It’s all about strengthening those bonds for a safe community.

Sussex County Sheriff Raymond Bell said he’s a regular at the Pork Festival and was very happy to help. For him, given his long-standing relationship with the Greensville County Sheriff’s Office, helping out came down to a simple idea.

“They called, we came,” Bell said. “We have always worked well together. That kind of cooperation makes all our communities a whole lot safer.”

Surry County Sheriff’s Office Angie Gainey said she had never attended an event as large as the Pork Festival and was happy to have made the trip to help out.
“I really have enjoyed this,” Gainey said. “It’s a very big event, and I think it’s just awesome.”

Featured Photo: Roger Bell/Sussex-Surry Dispatch
Greensville County Sheriff Tim Jarratt, left, and Sussex County Sheriff Raymond Bell, right, during the 43rd Virginia Pork Festival last week.

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