Safety being addressed at this year's Tulsa State Fair

Thursday, September 25th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa State Fair opened its 100th season Thursday afternoon. Three-dozen Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputies work the fair during the day and nearly 100 work each night to make sure everyone stays safe.

News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright offers more safety information for parents. The TCSO office trailer is the first place every parent of a young child should visit at the fair, so the child can get a wristband for safety.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz, "Those armbands allow us to put a phone number on it to call if they become separated." About 10 kids each night get lost. They've all been found in the past 15 years, but it can take hours if the child doesn't have an armband.

The sheriff's office also has a plan for kids skipping school to go to the fair or fighting or drinking. In the past, they got kicked out and slipped right back in, but no longer. "If we have children out here unsupervised during the day, we have juvenile authorities right here that we can let them deal with it to free us up."

So what about protecting your children not only from strangers at the fair, but strangers working at the fair. Murphy Brothers, who runs the midway in Tulsa, wrapped up a fair in Albuquerque last weekend. A ride operator was arrested after being accused of sexually touching two girls getting on a children's ride. Another employee was a convicted sex offender from out of state; he got arrested for breaking his parole.

Jerry Murphy from Murphy Brothers told me Thursday that if the employees come through an agency, it's up to the agency to run background checks. If they're hired locally, he says they run all the names on the payroll through the local and state sex offender websites.

He says that it was the sheriff's recommendation since a private company can't do as detailed background checks as law enforcement. However, he says even background checks aren't guarantees because he says the man accused of molesting the girls in Albuquerque last week, his background came out clean after he was arrested.

The good news is, Tulsa hasn't had an issue like this since 1990 when a fair employee was accused of having sex with an underage runaway and he was arrested and charged.