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Safety First: City Unveils Public Safety Plans for F1 Weekend

Tyler Pratt for KUT News

The City of Austin says it’s prepared to handle any and all public safety issues that may arise during the upcoming F1 weekend 10 days from now.

“I’m smiling because I’m ready,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We’ll absolutely have a tremendously positive impact in terms of public safety and in terms of the enjoyment of our residents and our visitors.”

City Manager Marc Ott met today with City of Austin, Travis County officials and partner agencies to announce a 24/7 area command hub that will oversee public safety, transportation and various other issues during the race weekend.

Beginning at 5:30 on morning of Nov. 15, the City Operations center will serve as Area Command through Monday, Nov. 19. From the Area Command the city can manage additional police, transportation, EMS, fire and communications services over the weekend.

“We’re going to be ready to put our best foot forward,” said Ott.

In what is one of the largest regional partnerships in Austin and Travis County history, the county is working with Dallas, Houston and San Antonio agencies to make sure everything goes smoothly. Also in attendance of the F1 festivities will be FBI, DEA, ATF, Texas military forces and the largest deployment of DPS officers to Travis County since the Bastrop fires, according to the sheriff’s office.

Acevedo noted over the race weekend the police department will use both uniformed police officers and undercover operatives at COTA and throughout the region.

‘You will be being watched,” joked Acevedo.

The chief also added that while public safety services are going to be heavily beefed up for the race and its visitors, it is the city’s goal that Austin residents receive the same quality services they would on a non-event weekend.

“Absent a catastrophe, you will not notice any degradation of service of any of our public safety agencies throughout the city,” promised Acevedo.

The city anticipates a cumulative 300,000 visitors to descend on Austin and the Circuit of the Americas (COTA), starting this Monday until  Monday, Nov. 19. The highest visitor concentration is expected Sunday, Nov. 18.

The president of COTA, Steve Sexton, said venue had sold over 115,000 three-day tickets, with ticket holders in every U.S. state from 50 countries from around the world.  

“There will be traffic,” said Sexton. “Leave early.”

With so many people international guests visiting Austin, Ott says the city is equipped to provide extra 311 services for a high volume of calls in multiple languages.

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