The forecast for Isla Vista this Halloween weekend calls for clear skies and mild temperatures during the day, with a downpour of costumed revelers, police and emergency personnel flooding the streets by late evening.
Lt. Sol Linver of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol said the IVFP will have its hands full today coordinating everything from the preparation of floodlight towers and barricades to the movement of 150 police officers in anticipation of the weekend’s festivities. This year, Linver said local law enforcement faces the additional challenges of enforcing a weekend-long ban on parking along the entire length of Del Playa and operating a field booking station in the evenings in the parking lot outside the IVFP station on Pardall Road.
Linver said the DP parking enforcement will be the first major change to take effect today, beginning at noon and continuing until 6 a.m. Monday. He said he anticipates that the light towers will be placed at about 1 p.m., and the stretch of Pardall in front of the IVFP station will blocked off to cars beginning at 6 p.m.
Linver said about three quarters of the “no parking” signs posted on DP were stolen Wednesday, and several deputies had to spend time Thursday tracking down a new batch of signs and reposting them.
“That costs money,” Linver said. “It’s an annoyance.”
No investigation into the incident is currently being pursued, Linver said, due to the heavy strain the IVFP is under from its Halloween enforcement efforts. However, he said he would be instructing deputies to cite anyone who attempts to further tamper with the signs.
Police barricades closing DP and Sabado Tarde Road to car traffic will be erected at 7 p.m. sharp, Linver said. He said deputies will man the barricades until about 3 or 4 a.m. each night, scanning the crowd for potential weapons and confiscating them. Confiscated items can be picked up at the IVFP station until 5 p.m. Tuesday, when they will be destroyed.
Nine members of the all-volunteer Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SAR) organization will be operating in teams of three out of the SAR command post at Camino Pescadero and Trigo Road, which will become operational at 7 p.m. No parking will be allowed on Camino Pescadero between Trigo and DP to accommodate the rescue station.
Linver said teams of SAR personnel, who will be dressed in orange jumpsuits, will be roaming through the crowds on DP two at a time, responding to medical emergencies that traditional emergency vehicles would otherwise be unable to reach.
“Last year they helped out a lot,” Linver said. “I think it’s very critical. If you look at how thick the crowds are, you’re not going to be able to get an ambulance through there.”
Planning for the weekend began more than six months ago and began to pick up speed around the start of Fall Quarter, Linver said. Officers from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept., Santa Barbara Police Dept., UC Police Dept., and California Highway Patrol (CHP) will be aiding the IVFP in its Halloween enforcement efforts, and personnel from the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept., Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue, Rescue 7, and Rescue 4 will be in the area to provide emergency services.
“I think everyone has recognized that we need to work together to make this a safer event,” Linver said. “The cooperation has been tremendous.”
In an effort to minimize the number of drunk driving-related incidents, Sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers will each set up one sobriety checkpoint on Friday and Saturday nights.
CHP officer Don Clotworthy said the CHP, by law, cannot release the location of the checkpoints, but said that CHP officers will stop cars between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. each night.
Clotworthy said six to eight CHP officers and one supervising officer will staff the sobriety checkpoint each night. Officers will stop every car that passes through the checkpoint, unless the checkpoints become backed up. In an effort to expedite the process, he said officers would then begin checking cars at a previously determined rate – such as every fifth car – to ensure cars are stopped objectively.
“We can determine very quickly if someone is driving under the influence,” Clothworthy said. “If they aren’t, they can drive through. And if they seem like they might be, we will investigate the issue further.”
Clotworthy said officers will look for several clues to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. He said such clues include bloodshot or glassy eyes, disheveled appearance, slurred speech, confusion or nervous fidgeting.
The CHP said officers arrested 11 people at sobriety checkpoints over the Halloween weekend last year. Clotworthy said he does not expect these numbers to increase dramatically, and said he thinks the checkpoints are more effective as a deterrent to potential drunk drivers.
“This increases the public’s awareness that we’re out there,” Clotworthy said. “People don’t know where [the checkpoints] are. Those people are going to think twice before getting behind the wheel of their car drunk.”
Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Chris Pappas said the Sheriff’s Dept. will also have a sobriety checkpoint in Goleta on Friday and Saturday night. He said the dept. recently received a $125,000 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety in order to improve safety conditions on local roads, and said Halloween sobriety checkpoints were a logical application of the grant money.
“Halloween, because of the influx in population and the number of people drawn into the area, gives us a window to apply this strategy of targeting these people who are driving impaired,” Pappas said. “It’s a logical time to have these checkpoints in operation. Its an effort to protect the community from people driving under the influence.”
In addition to the deputies staffing the checkpoint, Pappas said, members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), will pass out flyers to cars as they are stopped. Pappas said the MADD flyers will provide information about the consequences of driving under the influence and said he thinks this year’s checkpoints will be as successful as they have been in previous years.
“Without the law enforcement officials, there would have been more accidents because of drunk drivers,” Pappas said. “I think anyone who has had someone injured in an accident with a drunk driver can understand why these efforts are so important.”
As of midnight Thursday, Linver said the IVFP had recorded three arrests and 16 citations, mostly for noise violations and alcohol-related offenses.
“It appears to be an average Thursday night,” Linver said. “I’m hoping this is a sign of things to come.”
Linver said deputies broke up a few fights Thursday night, but other than that there were no major incidents. He said he would hesitate to be overly optimistic at this point, but he said there is a chance that all the IVFP’s preparation will pay off this year.
“I hope so,” Linver said. “I guess time will tell.”