Celebrity status ‘meaningless’ to cops patrolling Sundance | ParkRecord.com

Celebrity status ‘meaningless’ to cops patrolling Sundance


Art Boxall, a Park City police officer, directs traffic on Thursday at the Main Street-Heber Avenue intersection. The Park City Police Department expects to be busy over the weekend with the Sundance Film Festival crowds. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

A star’s celebrity status would not get them out of trouble if they are caught breaking the law in Park City or surrounding Summit County during the Sundance Film Festival.

They would be handled just like anyone else, the Park City Police Department and Summit County Sheriff’s Office said as the festival was starting. Officers at the two agencies, particularly the Police Department, are tasked with ensuring the festival unfolds safely. Park City officers will especially log long hours during Sundance, as they patrol Main Street and the official festival venues as well as handling the traffic.

Phil Kirk, a Park City captain, said a misbehaving celebrity would face police action just like anyone else. Kirk, a Sundance veteran, is involved in crafting the department’s plans for Sundance and is frequently seen on patrols during the festival.

"We try to treat everybody the same," Kirk said, adding, "We try to treat everybody, year round, with respect and dignity."

Sundance is typically the busiest stretch of the year for the Police Department as officers respond to calls at all hours about partying, crowds, traffic and parking violations. Kirk said, though, there are very few issues at official festival venues themselves.

He said celebrities rarely cause problems during the festival. The Police Department on a few occasions has received complaints from celebrities about the paparazzi working in Park City, he said. The celebrities also draw onlookers, he said. Kirk said the police would protect the safety of a celebrity like they would someone else.

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They sometimes attract crowds but nothing that causes problems," Kirk said.

The Police Department anticipates up to 30 officers will work at least one shift during the festival between the full-time officers, the department’s reservists and officers hired from other agencies to assist. Three-quarters of them will work "significant hours during the 10-day festival," Kirk said.

Much of the festival hubbub is centered in Park City, where the Police Department is the lead law enforcement agency, but the Sheriff’s Office is also involved in protecting Sundance itself and the crowds. Sheriff Dave Edmunds noted that there are more official festival venues in Summit County than there were before.

Edmunds said the Sheriff’s Office plans to provide security for several events during Sundance and could have a deputy posted at a few screenings.

"Increasingly, Sundance is starting to spill out into the county," Edmunds said.

Calls to the Sheriff’s Office increase during Sundance, Edmunds said, including hit-and-run accidents, traffic and parties. The Sheriff’s Office does not usually increase staffing levels for the festival, though, he said.

The Sheriff’s Office would not give a celebrity special treatment if they get in trouble, Edmunds said. He said celebrities have not caused problems in past years.

"Celebrity status gets you nothing with me," Edmunds said. "Celebrity status is meaningless to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office."