Security heightened for Student Day at the fair

- Hundreds of police, plus hundreds of surveillance cameras worked in tandem to control the crowds at the Florida State Fair's Student Day Friday.

The event, where thousands of Hillsborough County students have the day off from school and get into the fair for free, has drawn increased scrutiny since 2014. That's when a crowd of rowdy teens overwhelmed deputies and fair officials, causing a stampede on the midway.

The incident resulted in the ejection of dozens of teenagers.

When 14-year-old Andrew Joseph, III tried to get back in, he crossed I-4 where a car struck and killed him.

Since Joseph's death, the fair authority and deputies have changed security and entrance policies. Metal detectors were added. In addition, teens must be accompanied by an adult after dark.

Major Sank Montoute runs the security operation. He took FOX 13 inside to demonstrate what deputies are looking for in the crowd.

"They're looking for any kind of activity to, kind of, you know, head it off before it turns into something bad," said Montoute.

He says there have been several ejections for rowdy behavior, but called the security operation a success.

Deputies, cameras, elevated observation stands and undercover security have helped to manage crowds and any potential unruliness.

The sheriff's office said it will contact the parents of any child removed from the fair and hold them until someone picks them up. That change was also instituted after Joseph's death.

Deputies say the increased security will last through the duration of the fair and include student days for other counties.

"There's gonna be consequences. It's zero tolerance from here on out and I just like to make sure the parents know they have some responsibility too," said Montoute.

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