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Officials Publicize Security, Traffic Plans For MGM Casino Opening

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WAMC
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Officials today showcased a multi-faceted public safety plan for the opening next week of the first resort casino in Massachusetts – the MGM Springfield. 

   Touting an overall 45 percent drop in crime in the city in recent years, and a series of incident-free large- crowd events including a jazz festival last weekend, Mayor Domenic Sarno said Springfield is ready to welcome the throngs expected on the casino’s opening day.

    " We are letting everyone know you are going to have a clean, safe, and enjoyable time here in the city of Springfield for the MGM opening," stated Sarno.

    A lot is riding on a successful – and incident-free – opening of the $960 million casino.  It marks the launch of a new industry in Massachusetts with thousands of jobs on the line and tens of millions of dollars in revenue at stake for the city and the state.  

   Officials say they’ve produced an opening day security plan that has been thoroughly vetted.

  " So we feel confident," said Sarno. " There has been a lot of hard work put into this, but with any plan you always assess what is going on real-time."

   Sarno said more than $13 million is being spent annually on security in the city’s downtown.

   For the opening of the casino on August 24th, the 40-member Springfield Police Metro Unit will be supplemented by more than 50 additional police officers. There will be a tactical response team on standby.  Two emergency operations centers will be staffed.  Surveillance cameras throughout the downtown will be monitored at the police department’s real-time crime analysis center.

  "The goal would be to rapidly allow ( police) to get into the area and secure the safety of people waiting to get into MGM or egressing MGM," explained Springfield Police Commissioner John Barbieri, who added that DPW dump trucks will be used to block some streets to prevent a vehicle from crashing into pedestrians.

   At the casino complex itself, a Gaming Enforcement Unit, consisting of Springfield Police and state troopers, will be on patrol, according to Massachusetts State Police Deputy Superintendent Lt. Col. Barry O’Brien.

    "They will be on the front lines within the footprint of the casino and by that I mean the hotel, the garage, the gaming floor, the administration offices, the entertainment block, the outside venues," said O'Brien. "They will be the first responders to about anything you could name.

   MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said he has great confidence in the security arrangements.

   "Public safety in the tourism industry as much about being an abassador of the brand, and so when I look around this room and see the men and women in uniform, I see partners and collaborators," said Mathis.

   The city’s traffic management plan for the opening weekend of the casino includes numerous street closures throughout the downtown beginning as early as 4 a.m. on Friday August 24th.  Also, Exit 6 on Interstate 91 in both directions will be closed between 6 a.m-4 p.m.

   MGM is encouraging its opening day patrons to park at the Big E in West Springfield and use free shuttle buses to get to downtown Springfield.

   Click here for a link to the traffic and parking information.

  

 

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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