As far as police presence Gauley Fest goes, keep in mind the reason for the police (which are actually off duty cops hired by AW) is to #1 protect boaters from the folks who don't know how to handle their booze and think it's a bright idea to drive wasted through the camp ground, light random shit on fire and may try to mess with your gear. Being a boater who's goals are to actually paddle over the weekend and not get housed, I appreciate the cops patrolling at night to keep the rowdy ones away from my gear and tent.
The idea of Gauley Fest is to raise funds for AW so they can continue to help conserve whitewater for recreational use and continue to give us paddlers access to the sections we love. Gauley Fest is their #1 fundraiser of the year. With that in mind, the cheap gear, used boats, raffles, schwag bags, entertainment and cheap camping are just a bonus.
As far as police go outside the festival - watch your back. Whether it's driving, paddling, parking or just plane going out - avoid the local cops at all costs. A majority of them hate boaters and will write you a ticket for 1 mike over the limit, no lie.