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Safety top of mind during the Big 12 Tournament at T-Mobile Center

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Posted at 8:32 PM, Mar 12, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last time Kansas City had a major sports event downtown was the Kansas City Chiefs parade celebrating a Super Bowl LVIII victory.

That event brought safety concerns about large gatherings in the city, like the Big 12 men's and women's basketball tournaments.

There are clear differences between the parade and these games. To start, the basketball games are indoors, so fans outdoors are much more spread out.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department worked the parade and is also responsible for security for the Big 12 tournaments.

KCPD says a few of the new security measures include extending traffic barricades, more on-duty officers to assist off-duty officers and an increased focus on entry and exit points.

“The city’s no stranger to large scale events," KCPD Sgt. Phil DiMartino, a spokesperson for the department, said. “This one in particular — there are some things that we’ve done extra this year."

KCPD says it’s always looking for ways to improve after any major event like the parade and that improvement can involve input from attendees.

“We had over 800 law enforcement officers helping us that day, we have tons of law enforcement officers here helping us this week, but as the public, if you see something, call us. If you see something, say something,” DiMartino said.

KSHB 41's Rachel Henderson spoke to families taking in the tournament who said they aren’t letting last month’s shooting define the city.

“You have to enjoy it,” Aldyn Leive, a fan with a toddler in her arms, said. “His favorite sport is basketball, and so he loves coming down. We came down last year, and so, we're just here to have fun.”

Leive says her boyfriend was at the rally when the shooting broke out and has memories from the day of the parade, like Harper Mercier, a high school freshman who went with friends.

He attended the tournament Tuesday with his grandparents and says being back in the city brought flashbacks.

“It's definitely been fresh in my mind today, like we just parked at Union Station, and I was like, 'It just happened here not too long ago.' Like it was a bad event for the city of course,” Mercier said.

He said he doesn’t want to stop having fun, which meant changing his mindset.

“Still do fun events that the city hosts, but we just have to be much more careful in the future going ahead,” Mercier said. “You can’t just pretend like it’s not going to happen again because it’s the times we live in today, and I think we’re more prepared hopefully, and you know, hopefully everyone can stay safe today.”

Fans here are trying to strike that balance between not living in fear and not ignoring some of our country’s current reality.

“I'm also a school teacher,” said Kate Mead, who drove in from Des Moines with her daughter and husband. “It's something that I think is just becoming more our norm, which is really unfortunate. But we're not gonna live in fear, and we are not letting that stop any of our choices if we want to travel or go enjoy something.”