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Detroit Police Chief Talks Safety Ahead of 2024 NFL Draft: ‘Grab Your Patience’

(CBS DETROIT) – We’re less than two weeks away from the start of the 2024 NFL draft, and downtown Detroit is sure to look a lot different as fans rush into Motown.

With thousands of new visitors, police say security will be tight.

“We do big events in Detroit, we do Taylor Swift, we do Beyonce concerts, you know, we know how to manage big crowds. This is unique, it’s bigger than ever a Superbowl,” said Detroit Police Chief James White .

From national parades to concerts, Detroit sees it all. But with the NFL draft wrapping up in just a few weeks, it’s a whole new feat. It is estimated that at least 300,000 people will travel into the city to enjoy the festivities.

READ: NFL draft in Detroit. New details on how to get around the city

“Have some patience. You’re going to have to park early. You can’t come down at the last minute and think you’re going to have full access to everything,” White said.

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Road closures will continue through the center to the main event. Visitors can expect things to be better under control in the coming weeks. There are six closing phases in total. Phase three begins Monday when Hart Plaza completes the design.

“They’re going to see more road closures gradually until we get to the start time. Basically, they’re going to have to really manage and plan in advance where they want to go,” White said.

As the city is in the national spotlight, excitement is building. But for the chef, he and his team spent a year crossing the T’s and dotting them to ensure all residents and visitors enjoyed the fun.

“The entire event is gun-free. When we say gun-free, people often think we’re talking about guns. No guns, no brass knuckles, no pepper spray,” White said.

An important topic for the concept preparations is the new “Detroit” sign on Interstate 94. It’s certainly been a conversation, with some on social media criticizing the sign, while others think it helps set Detroit apart.

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“Maybe I’m in the minority on this. I kind of like it, and I think it’s unique. I’ve been focusing on the concept, so I haven’t really paid much attention to the social media talk about it, but I rode it today and it looks pretty cool,” White said.

CBS News Detroit is told a special team has even been assigned to watch the sign to make sure it doesn’t bother anyone.

For the chef, he is confident that the city of Detroit will be able to show its beauty and courage to the world.

“That story associated with Detroit, as my daughter says, has played out and we’re in a different place now. We’re ready to show the world what we can do,” White said.

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