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Lodi Officers Will Be Armed With Patrol Rifles at Annual Grape Festival

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LODI --  Along with the grapes, vendors and family fun, festivalgoers at this year’s Lodi Grape Festival can expect to see some changes in security.

“I'm really happy that they’re kind of amping up the security but it is kind of an eye-opener,” said Lodi resident Nicole Courtney.

Police said in the wake of recent mass shootings, including the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July that left three people dead, they want to make sure people visiting Lodi feel as safe as possible.

“Because that one hits really close to home, we’re looking at everything that happened there and just trying to, basically, prevent anything from happening as best as we can,” said William Hinton with the Lodi Police Department.

This year some officers will be seen walking around the fairgrounds with patrol rifles in order to deter any violent activity and to increase response time in case anything goes wrong.

“We get from all over the county and different cities people coming in and we want to make sure their experience is really good and they'll feel safe here,” Hinton explained.

Those in Lodi said some people are still on edge after the Gilroy shooting and think it’s a good idea for Lodi police to help calm fears.

“I think that the Gilroy incident kind of hit a little bit close to home for a lot of people here," Courtney told FOX40. "And even though it's kind of been something that's happened recently, I think it’s kind of in the back of everybody's mind as the Grape Festival kind of gets closer. So, I think it’s probably wise to (increase security), especially since there’s so many people that like to do that copycat type of thing, so that can be scary.”

Others said they plan to attend the Grape Festival with or without heightened security and encourage fellow festivalgoers to enjoy the time spent with their families and not worry.

“The chances of it happening are so minute that you could sit and spend all your time worrying about it or you can just go on and live your life,” said resident Dave O’Neil.

The annual festival will be held this Thursday through Sunday.

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