Halloween revelers searching for a unique costume might want to avoid the cop outfits this year, as they will find the streets of Isla Vista teeming with real police officers this Oct. 31.
Lt. Sol Linver of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said the IVFP has arranged for more than 150 sworn officers to be patrolling the streets of I.V. at any given time during the evenings of Friday, Oct. 29, through Sunday, Oct. 31 – more than triple the number of law enforcement personnel present on Halloween weekend of 2002. Linver said the IVFP will be drawing officers from local agencies like the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. as well as more distant ones like the UCLA branch of the UC Police Dept.
The police presence in I.V. will also include 12 agents from the California Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control, who will assist deputies on uniformed patrols; five to 10 plainclothes officers; four to six officers on horseback; numerous officers on bikes and in patrol cars; one K-9 unit; and IVFP vans for transportation of arrestees, Linver said. He said approximately 50 officers will be tasked to Del Playa Drive, while the other 100 will patrol the remainder of I.V.
Foremost in the changes to the IVFP’s plan since last year’s Halloween is the announcement that no parking will be allowed on DP from noon on Oct. 29 to 6 a.m. on Nov. 1. Linver said the university will be offering students free on-campus parking for the duration of the weekend, but they must register through Transportation and Parking Services before Friday the 29th.
Linver said a search and rescue patrol command post will be established at the corner of Camino Pescadero and Trigo Road, and he said anyone who sustains minor injuries can go there for first aid treatment.
A major reason for banning parking on DP, Linver said, was that last year’s crowds were so thick that they prevented medical personnel from responding promptly to emergencies.
“One of the problems last year was that search and rescue couldn’t get through the crowds to respond to medical calls,” Linver said.
Linver said that many cars were damaged last year on DP during the Halloween weekend, with everything from vandalized mirrors to inadvertent bumps or scratches.
“It’s for the people who live on DP,” Linver said. “We had a lot of vandalism to the cars last year.”
One of the main goals of the plainclothes officers, Linver said, will be to identify groups of people wandering the streets who are causing trouble, and assist deputies in apprehending troublemakers before they spark any large-scale incidents.
“If a major incident occurs, we will have the staff to respond to it,” Linver said. “However, the desire is to prevent that from even happening – if we see people causing trouble, we will deal with them quickly.”
Linver said nine floodlight towers will line the 6500, 6600 and 6700 blocks of DP, providing both revelers and law enforcement with better visibility in the dense crowds. He said one of the main advantages of the lights is that they make it harder for people to commit crimes and sneak off without being identified.
“If people are seen a little bit easier and there’s less of that anonymity, they are less likely to cause problems,” Linver said.
The parking lot next to the IVFP station on Pardall Road will be used as a field booking area, Linver said. He said people who are arrested in I.V. will be transported there and then to the Santa Barbara County Jail. Friends of those arrested can inquire about their status at 681-4713, 681-4714 or 681-4263.
To prevent traffic from entering DP from the north, the IVFP will erect barricades in the same locations as last year at the intersections of Camino del Sur and Trigo, Camino Pescadero and Trigo and the Embarcadero loop next to Little Acorn Park. In addition, blockades on Camino Corto at 6800 Del Playa and 6800 Sabado Tarde Road will stop traffic from entering Sabado Tarde and Del Playa from the west. Blockades will go up around 7 each night and come down around 4 a.m.
Linver said officers stationed at blockade positions will be watching out for costume items that could be used to injure someone, like golf clubs or pitchforks. He said confiscated items will be tagged and taken to the IVFP office, where they cannot be retrieved until the following Tuesday.
“Anything that can be potentially used as a weapon will be taken,” Linver said.
In previous years, Linver said, the IVFP has confiscated a wide variety of potentially harmful objects – some more obviously dangerous than others – at the barricades. He said the more menacing items included machetes, baseball bats and even a chainsaw.
“We’re not just doing this because we think it’s a good idea,” Linver said. “It has happened in the past.”
Despite the serious overtones of all the law enforcement preparations underway, Linver said he enjoys Halloween in I.V. and wants students to have fun.
“I’m all for a community event. I’m all for having a good time, and – besides the chainsaw – I love the costumes,” Linver said.
Linver said one of his priorities is to keep the event as local as possible, but he said the real problems with visitors from out of town arise when local residents invite large numbers of people and fail to let them know how strictly laws are enforced in I.V.
“If you want some friends to come over and enjoy the festivities, that’s fine,” Linver said. “Just don’t invite a busload. If you invite friends from out of town, explain the rules to them. If your friend walks outside with an open container, there are 150-plus deputies out there, and they are going to get cited.”
Since Halloween falls on a Sunday this year – adding an additional day of celebration to the normal I.V. weekend – Linver said he anticipates that the total number of crimes for the weekend will increase from last year, despite the increased law enforcement.
Last year, some of the more serious crimes on Halloween weekend included one rape, a sexual assault and two instances of assault with a deadly weapon, Linver said.
“I’d love to see the incidents from last year not occur,” Linver said. “I would love to see Halloween go by without anyone falling off the cliff [and] without anyone getting hit in the head by a 2-by-4.”
Linver said the huge crowds in I.V. on Halloween make it important to stay with friends when walking the streets, especially for young women and visitors from out of town.
“Have a good time, but do it responsibly and do it safely,” Linver said. “If you’re going to travel, travel in groups.”
No estimates for how much the IVFP will spend on Halloween enforcement this year will be available until after the weekend, Linver said. He said a significant amount will be spent on overtime pay for officers, many of whom are going to be assisting from other locations within the county.
“A lot of deputies will be on overtime,” Linver said. “We will be adjusting their schedules as much as possible, but most of them still have a job to do in other places.
Linver said he wishes all the time and money needed to ensure public safety in I.V. on Halloween could be used elsewhere, but he said the event is just too large to skimp on law enforcement.
“I’d love to be able to spend that money to bring more deputies out to catch burglars instead,” Linver said.
Increased enforcement lately of laws prohibiting furnishing alcohol to minors has helped contribute to party hosts being more responsible for their guests, Linver said. He said I.V. residents who find their Halloween parties full of uninvited guests are encouraged to call the IVFP for assistance.
“If you have a party that gets out of control, call us and we’ll come break it up,” Linver said.
Even though vehicles will not be allowed on DP – including police vehicles – Linver said the IVFP will still be actively enforcing alcohol laws and confiscating kegs as necessary.
“We will escort a keg just like we would escort a person,” Linver said. “There will be no free pass to violate any of the laws.”
Due to the large influx of people into I.V. during Halloween, Linver said the risk of burglary or theft is even higher than normal. He said students
should be sure to secure back rooms during parties, and lock all doors and windows when they leave the house.
“I expect the burglars will be out in force, along with pickpockets and auto burglars,” Linver said. “I guarantee they will be out and about, so take your valuables and lock them away someplace safe.”
With several bluffside properties on DP vacated and fenced off, Linver said, officers will be keeping an eye out for trespassers. James Gelb, owner of some of those properties, said he would be hiring private security to provide additional security for his residences.
“Anyone hopping those fences is going to be arrested,” Linver said.
Capt. Diondray Wiley, spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept., said the department will assign a pickup truck fitted with a pump to I.V. for fighting small fires, but otherwise will continue its normal operations.
“Down there, it’s more of a law enforcement issue,” Wiley said.
Lt. Manny Garza, who works for the UCLA branch of the UCPD, said 10 officers from his department will be assisting the IVFP on Halloween weekend.
“We always look forward to any opportunities for mutual aid,” Garza said. “It’s always a good assignment.”
Garza said he is not yet certain how the UCLA-based officers will be assisting the IVFP.
“They will put us wherever they feel they need us most,” Garza said.
Linver said the IVFP will be starting to ramp up the police presence in I.V. the Thursday before Halloween, putting 30 officers out on patrol.
“I think Thursday night will be like the Friday nights right now,” Linver said.
Linver said he hopes the IVFP’s new Halloween plan will make the event more enjoyable and more secure for local residents.
“I’m hoping that it’s going to be safer,” Linver said. “I’m hoping people have fun, and I’m hoping to see some great costumes.”