LOUISVILLE, Ky., -- Almost 160,000 spectators were back at Churchill Downs for the running of the 148th Kentucky Derby May 7. Kentucky National Guardsmen from the 223rd Military Police Company and 123rd Airlift Wing helped ensure the event was safe and enjoyable for the first 100% capacity Derby since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Roughly 130 Kentucky National Soldiers and Airmen augmented the Louisville Metro Police and Churchill Downs in providing security, directing traffic and crowd control during the “most exciting two minutes in sports.”
The 223rd assisted Louisville Metro Police with maintaining over 80 checkpoints on the roads surrounding Churchill Downs, reducing the workload on local law enforcement and providing additional skilled personnel.
“It’s been such a great experience to be out here interacting with the community, and creating positive public relations and having a great time,” said Specialist Matthew Paverd of the 223rd Military Police Company.
Guard Soldiers also guarded the Derby trophy while other Soldiers and Airmen provided a rope detail in the winner’s circle after the race.
“The Kentucky National Guard has been helping the police with the Derby for 116 times in a row now. I like the interactions with the crowd – they’re not just passing by, they’ll say ‘thank you for your service,’ and they’ll interact with you, and the relationships get stronger in our unit, with LMPD… and the bond gets strong [with the public] as well,” said Sgt. Dante Altamirano of the 223rd Military Police Company.