Downtown Farmers’ Market Planners Constantly Thinking About Safety First

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  It didn't take Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas for the Downtown Farmers' Market to begin planning for the worst case scenario.

"We work closely with the Des Moines Police Department and we have on-duty officers walking the site and working the site every time the market is going," said Kelly Foss, Director of the Downtown Farmers' Market.

In May, large barriers including vans were implemented as barricades to fend off any vehicular attacks.

"Just to make people more aware of the street closure and make sure vehicle traffic isn't able to come into the market area."

The deadly shooting in Las Vegas does pose other concerns, like the threat from above.

"We are always keenly aware of the dangers when you bring the community together in a celebratory way and so many thousands of people in one location," said Foss.

A number of rooftops overlook Court Avenue, where crowds gather each Saturday, providing a high vantage point of people below.

"What happened in Las Vegas is most difficult to prevent because it's a lone wolf terrorist. I mean, the guy is a terrorist whether he was affiliated with a group or not," said Tom Conley of The Conley Group, a professional security services group.  He says you can increase your survival before an event begins. "When you go in, make sure you know where the exits are. Make sure that you know where you are going to take cover or concealment."

It's not a tragedy that is probable in Des Moines, but Conley says his experience in workplace violence has proven the metro is not as innocent as it seems.

Conley said, "Over the past 25 years, we have responded to more than 1,000 workplace violence incidents right here in the metro area. I've taken knives away from people and guns.  I've stopped people who were on their way to kill their CEO."

Farmers' Market officials believe gatherings like those on Saturday more often heal than hurt. They can be strong forces in showing what Iowa is all about.

Foss said, "What better way to celebrate togetherness than come down to the Farmers' Market and really be part of the community and celebrate that we are a safe community?"

The Downtown Farmers' Market is switching to fall hours, which will be 8 a.m. until noon through October.