LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Driving downtown you may have noticed international flags — it's one of the latest signs that the Breeders’ Cup is just around the corner. Thousands are expected to visit from around the globe, so the city is making plans to make sure everything stays safe.
"The level that the Breeders' Cup brings is — as I mentioned, people from all over the world — and of course we're focused here on safety every single day," says Mayor Linda Gorton.
Mayor Gorton explains that the city is equipped to handle safety situations like this one, because of policies and implementations that are already in place.
"We've done some very specific things, not just for Breeders’ Cup but for every day. And some of those are we have added a much larger police presence on a regular basis downtown," she says.
Other measures include additional lighting, signage, and restricted parking.
The Downtown Management District is contributing to law enforcement funding and money has been budgeted for police overtime during the championships.
Paul Murphy, a downtown business owner, still has concerns.
"Breeders’ Cup, yeah, it's gonna be cleaned up for that. I guarantee it's not gonna be any homeless people about downtown. It'll be cleaned up. Everybody that comes to Lexington is gonna be like 'wow this place is amazing' — but when Breeders’ Cup is over, it's gonna go back to what's been happening," says Murphy.
Murphy, owner of Horse and Jockey, says he knows law enforcement is doing the best they can, but he wants to see more proactive measures taken before incidents happen.
"They’re short-staffed in police, I get that, but now all of a sudden Keeneland in town and there's cops everywhere. You know the sheriff's downtown — who by the way is only there to observe. Unless a fight breaks out, they won’t do anything," he says.
Mayor Gorton says this is an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy what the Breeders’ Cup has to offer. She says efforts to collaborate with businesses continue and she encourages people to report what they see.
"We've put a lot into being a safe city — and so I encourage people to really enjoy it and if there's an issue, call the police, call 311. You know, we want to know about the issues, if we don't know about them, we can’t do anything about them," she says.