Drumstick DASH organizers address race security after route change, police shortage

Drumstick Dash

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — In just one hour, thousands of people will be moving their feet so others can eat during the Atlantic Union Bank Drumstick DASH in Roanoke. This comes after a late change left organizers scrambling to pull off the largest fundraiser of the year for the Rescue Mission of Roanoke.

The Roanoke Police Department and neighboring law enforcement agencies did not have enough officers available to provide the DASH with the necessary security to safeguard the route through downtown Roanoke.

As a result, the Rescue Mission moved the race course from downtown Roanoke to the Greenways around River’s Edge Park, with the starting line at Wiley Drive.

This route change cuts down the number of officers needed from more than a dozen to just four.

WFXR News’ D’mon Reynolds spoke with the Rescue Mission about the new security measures for the Drumstick DASH and they are confident the new location is safe enough for the number of police officers they have in place.

According to Kevin Berry, the communications manage for the Rescue Mission of Roanoke, he is confident that — despite the last minute changes — the four officers and dozens of volunteers will be able to make sure the event goes smoothly for the 6,000 participants.

“We checked in with the city, with the police,” said Berry. “We worked with our community partners to make sure this event was going to be as safe as possible.”

Even with the limited number of officers in place, Berry says other people will be helping out with the DASH, such as road marshals.

“Road marshals are really there for folks to make sure they stay on course but also to make sure folks are not coming onto the course,” Berry said. “They’ll be there if a biker or runner wants to come onto the greenway to politely remind them ‘hey, the DASH is on the greenway today.”

Meanwhile, the police officers at the race will be on traffic duty in the streets.

According to former law enforcement officer Dr. Tod Burke, it’s not so much about the number of officers as it is about the strategic placement of the officers.

“Research has shown that it’s not how many officers that you have,” said Burke. “It’s what do you do with the officers that you do have.”

Dr. Burke says people should know that their concerns were taken into account before the decision was made to move the race course.

“What the organizers did is move the event to a location that it will allow for greater safety and security,” explained Burke.

The Drumstick DASH is a longtime holiday tradition in Roanoke that raises money for the Rescue Mission’s program to feed the hungry throughout the year. In other words, community members are encouraged to move their feet so others can eat.

If you would like to walk or run in the DASH, registration is still open for the in-person DASH on Thanksgiving Day, as well as the virtual DASH, which takes place through Tuesday, Nov. 30. You can also donate to the Rescue Mission of Roanoke by clicking here.

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