Police to use enhanced security barricades at Bikes, Blues, and BBQ

Photo: Gina Shelton

The Fayetteville Police Department will be using new barricades as part of enhanced security for the 18th annual Bikes, Blues, and BBQ rally.

BBB is one of the largest biker rallies in the United States and attracts thousands of visitors to Northwest Arkansas. Fayetteville police are collaborating with private security firms and other nearby police departments as well as University of Arkansas police in preparation for the rally.

The event begins Wednesday and is expected to draw between 325,000 and 375,000 attendees, said Tommy Sisemore, the executive director of the rally.

Among the new security precautions is the addition of 40 water-filled barricades, each weighing about 1,900 pounds, said Sgt. Anthony Murphy of the Fayetteville police.

Sisemore said his decision to include the barricades was influenced by a trip to Times Square on New Year’s Eve where he saw garbage trucks used as barriers against motor vehicle attacks. The barricades will be placed at cross streets near the Dickson Street venue.

“We just decided to add that extra layer of security,” Murphy said. “Extra security is always a good thing.”

About 200 officers from Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Farmington will provide security throughout the rally, Sisemore said. He said $141,000 was spent on police overtime last year.

The UAPD will also be working during the rally as parking around Baum Stadium is designated for use by attendees, Capt. Gary Crain of the UAPD said.

The UAPD and the Fayetteville police will participate together in the command post for the rally, Crain said.

“We work with UAPD all the time so it really is a seamless integration,” Murphy said.

Throughout the event the UAPD will maintain regular patrols of campus while communicating with officers at rally venues to stay aware of any possible concerns, Crain said.

With campus involvement being mostly limited to the Baum Stadium area, the impact on the campus community’s safety is minimal, Crain said.

There will also be a private security presence of around 100 personnel, said Sisemore, who is also the director of security for the Walmart Amphitheater.

During last year’s rally, there were a total of 26 arrests and 7 accidents, down from 38 arrests and 15 accidents during the 2015 rally, according to a media release from the Fayetteville Police Department.

“on average, over a four-day motorcycle rally, there are less arrests than there is at one home football game,’’ Sisemore said.

The majority of arrests tend to be of Northwest Arkansas residents, according to both Sisemore and the Fayetteville police release.

“Generally, it’s the same people who would be acting a fool on Dickson Street anyway,” Sisemore said.

Evan Moss is a journalism and political science student at the University of Arkansas. He’s a fan of comic books and pop music queens. You can find him defending Kanye West’s behavior on Twitter @evanmossUARK