Some years back, when mass shootings became a thing and vehicles were weaponized to terrorize crowds of people, New Bedford Police adjusted their procedures for securing the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Feast is safe, or at least as safe as can be expected, but there is always a risk of danger and you should be prepared for it. My intent is not to frighten anyone or to drive people away from the Feast but rather to make you aware that evil-doers exist, and despite all of the best efforts can strike with little or no warning.

Police are prepared but without specific prior intelligence, they can only react as a situation is unfolding. Police in Gilroy, California were able to neutralize a shooter at the annual Garlic Festival within one minute last evening, but even in that short span of time three people were killed and more than a dozen others injured. It happens quickly.

While there will be a more than an adequate number of police officers on hand to keep the peace at the Feast, you have to do your part to prevent or at least react to the unexpected. Keep your eyes open and report anything that appears suspicious immediately. Know where the exits are and have a plan just in case you need to leave quickly. Be aware of your surroundings.

Being aware doesn't mean you can't have fun, but being aware might save your life and the lives of others in the event of an emergency.

The 105th Feast of the Blessed Sacrament is this weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over will attend the Feast. Security will be intense but the most important person on that security team could be you.

Stay alert.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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