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      Columbia Police increasing presence this weekend

      Columbia Police out in full force as city receives 125k visitors

      COLUMBIA,SC (WACH) -- The city of Columbia Police Department is out in full force this weekend as the city receives 125,000 visitors to the city due to various entertainment events including two football games, a religious convocation, USC Parents Weekend, and the Greek Festival.

      Captain Greene with the CPD says she thinks just about everyone in the department is working. "Man we are stretched out. We've got everybody working from the Chief on down to the lowest patrolman," she said.

      The increase in population nearly doubles the city's population. Traffic has increased, restaurants are busy and hotels are servicing many guests. The influx of people has the potential to jeopardize public safety. "We're going to be out here so we just want you to be smart about what you're doing and how you're doing it," said Greene.

      While city police are out in full force ensuring safety and directing traffic, the Columbia Regional Tourism office says each activity means big bucks for the local economy.

      Kelly Barbrey with the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism says any activity or event that brings visitors in to the city is a good thing for the local economy. "It really brings in that out of town dollar and really allows people to take advantage of what Columbia has and then they spend their dollar here," she said.

      Columbia will see an impact from all the events being held but it could take up to a week to estimate exactly how much local businesses benefited economically. "We look at hotel occupancy rates then we talk to restaurants and find out what their cover count was and how many people they served over and beyond what they would serve on a normal weekend without all of these events," Barbrey said.

      Columbia Police urge citizens and visitors to follow safety tips while enjoying the events offered this weekend. Those tips include:

      Park in well lit areas during hours of darkness

      There is always safety in numbers

      Monitor your surroundings

      Always make sure your vehicle is secured (windows up, doors locked)

      Never leave your vehicle running while unattended

      Place cell phones, GPS units (including mounts), lap tops, iPods and other electronics out of sight

      Don't drink and drive

      Trust your instincts