From traffic to the Snake Pit, here's how Indy police prep for the 500 celebrations

The party atmosphere at the Indy 500 is infectious. From the muddy Snake Pit to the busy parade streets and fashionable checkered attire in the Speedway stands, celebration will be everywhere.

So will hundreds of Indianapolis police officers.

Inside the Speedway, officers will monitor the crowd on bikes and ATVs. Outside, they'll be directing traffic. Coordinating patrol for over 300,000 fans required planning from multiple departments.

Here's what that plan looks like, and here are some tips to stay safe.

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Traffic coordination outside of the Speedway

At 5 a.m. on race day, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers will be stationed at every intersection outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said Josh Barker, the deputy chief of operations.

While hardcore fans may have a sneaky route they take to the Speedway, Barker said arriving early and planning a route is essential.

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With all the fans, Barker said there's guaranteed to be a lot of traffic and road closures. He asked that drivers remain patient.

"It is absolutely remarkable how quickly we can get (traffic) in and out," Barker said. "But it doesn't necessarily feel remarkable when you're the one sitting in traffic."

The Speedway's website has a race day guide and a graphic of the traffic plan.

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Safety inside the Speedway

Patrolling inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a coordinated effort.

Barker said the department has relationships with multiple Indiana public safety agencies that will be present on race day, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Safety patrol (also known as "yellow shirts"), Speedway Police, Marion County Sheriff's Office and Indiana State Police.

Amidst the chaos and celebration will be a "coordinated incident command post" for these agencies.

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Barker said there's always fans who overindulge or become too boisterous. This hub, he said, was created to deal with any incident.

Whether someone might suffer from heat exhaustion or a medical episode, the command post will dispatch the appropriate responders to the scene.

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A 'night and day' difference

Barker said compared to Indy 500 celebrations in the 1980s and 1990s, race day is a much safer, better experience for fans.

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Since 500 celebrations take place annually, Barker said Indianapolis police have a historical perspective on how to deal with such a large event.

"I have a high degree of confidence that we have the right amount of personnel that are assigned to the event," Barker said. "There's absolutely nothing that tells me we have anything to be concerned about."

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More safety tips

Barker said the department encourages everyone to enjoy the city for Indy 500 celebrations, but to do it responsibly.

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Here's some safety measures the police department recommends.

  • Plan your route ahead of time and leave early.

  • Make sure to hydrate if you're out in the sun.

  • Don't hesitate to approach an officer to report anything that makes you uncomfortable.

  • Don't drink and drive — have a plan to get home safely.

  • Be patient in traffic.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis police prep safety plan for Indy 500 partiers, give tips