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Aug 23, 2017 9:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Classic To Have Tighter Security This Year

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki, Hampton Classic Executive Director Shanette Cohen, Site Manager David Dimijian and Southampton Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan review security measures for the Hampton Classic. JEN NEWMAN
Aug 23, 2017 10:02 AM

Security measures for the Hampton Classic, which opens Sunday, will be heightened this year—largely due to new protocols in the Southampton Town Police Department.

Since the Hampton Classic is one of the world’s most prestigious horse shows, Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said Town Police—in conjunction with the Classic’s hired private firm, Titan Global Security—will be taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of the expected tens of thousands who will attend the weeklong event.

According to Chief Skrynecki, there will be a “diverse security package” at the event, set to run from this Sunday, August 27, to Sunday, September 3. Attendees will be protected by a blend of increased private and public officers, State Police bomb-sniffing dogs, bag checks, undercover officers and officers from the department’s new Counter Terrorist Unit, who will be carrying assault rifles.

“Of course, this event is one of the bigger ones and draws a large crowd—thousands on a daily basis,” Chief Skrynecki said. “We want to make sure that all the attendees, competitors, as well as the staff, are safe. Once again, it will be our mission to provide public safety without interfering.”

The recent move by the new police chief—who officially took over in May after working as a consultant for the town for several months—to arm some Town Police officers with assault rifles is in response to terrorist attacks in the United States and around the world, he explained when the department’s anti-terrorism unit was established earlier this summer.

There has never been a terrorist attack on the East End, but these extra precautions by Town Police are welcomed by Classic officials.

“We really appreciate the town’s work with us to make the event as safe as possible,” Hampton Classic Executive Director Shanette Cohen, who has run the event for the past 12 years, said on Tuesday while going over final security measures at the Bridgehampton site with Chief Skrynecki, Town Police Lieutenant James Kiernan—who is the incident commander for the event—and the Classic’s site manager, David Dimijian.

A security notice released by Hampton Classic officials states that all people and their property are subject to inspections at security checkpoints, or randomly at the event.

“The Town of Southampton has established an anti-terrorism task force and has increased security requirements at all events,” Classic officials wrote in the release. “Please know that there will likely be a more visible police presence on the show grounds. We hope you will find this to be a comfort.”

Critics of the heightened efforts have raised concerns about the visibility of the CTUs’ assault rifles and body armor, arguing that they are not in keeping with the family-friendly environment and laid-back atmosphere of East End events.

Although Chief Skrynecki declined to provide specific details about the operation for safety reasons, he did say that increased security checkpoints at entrances, which will include bag and body checks, might lead to longer wait times to enter the event. He noted that medical staff will also be at the event to assist with any illness or injury and that additional officers will be positioned to assist with general traffic flow.

“We will be on scene at the ready to manage any disruption to the event should one take place,” the police chief said, emphasizing that all increased security measures were precautionary. “Thus far, there is no indication of any threat to the event or any plan to disrupt the event, or any antagonistic group commenting on social media about the event.”

The Classic, now in its 42nd year, begins this Sunday with Locals Day, with junior and adult competition in Jumper Ring 2 at 8 a.m. The event has competitions for riders with disabilities and features more than 200 classes in six show rings, a boutique area with more than 70 vendors, and dining options, all on the 60-acre show grounds off Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton.

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Chief's revolver looks real modernized.
By Mouthampton (332), Southampton on Aug 23, 17 12:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yea, I did a double take too. Reminds me of those days of speed loaders.
By BruceB (131), Sag Harbor on Aug 23, 17 10:48 PM
Vests for the riders and horses... Jay, don't we have a budget??? Are we going to supply security for every event??? Private security isn't good enough???
Who is paying for all this TOWN BOARD???
By knitter (793), Southampton on Aug 23, 17 5:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
The event gets a bill from the town. Don't worry, they're covered.
By Draggerman (640), Southampton on Aug 24, 17 7:51 AM
I guess the new Chief wasn't brought up to speed on the good old criminal, Kiernan. Sad to see him as one of the poster children for the dept after all he did and is still suing the town
By mrobin (114), North Sea on Aug 24, 17 12:34 PM
This man needs to join the Marines he thinks were under seige.
By chief1 (2292), southampton on Aug 24, 17 7:35 PM
It seems our new top cop likes the camera as much as our supervisor...
By Draggerman (640), Southampton on Aug 25, 17 6:19 AM
Old cop, old gun? Got to get up to SHPD speed. Is that a PD standard issue or photo op???
By knitter (793), Southampton on Aug 25, 17 7:39 PM
Sag Harbor, Music Festival, Tickets, Nancy Atlas, American Music