With the Halloween weekend quickly approaching, local law enforcement agencies are gearing up to combat crime, fight fires and provide emergency medical care in Isla Vista during the holiday.
More than 100 law enforcement officers, at least one ambulance, search and rescue personnel, and investigators from the Alcohol Beverage Control agency will be stationed in I.V. over Halloween weekend, said I.V. Foot Patrol (IVFP) Lt. Sol Linver. Linver said the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. will also set up floodlights and barricades on Del Playa Drive, a search and rescue station and an operation staging center at Embarcadero Hall – where sheriffs deputies, personnel from the Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. and California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers will receive information and regular briefings throughout the weekend. The Santa Barbara office of the CHP will also be setting up at least one DUI checkpoint in I.V. or the surrounding area, CHP spokesman Don Clotworthy said.
After months of planning and multiple meetings with other local law enforcement agencies, the IVFP will put its Halloween plans into action this week, Linver said. He said the light towers, barricades and search and rescue station should all be set up by Friday evening.
“We’re beyond planning and into getting ready to implement some things,” Linver said.
Clotworthy said the CHP checkpoints, the locations of which have not yet been determined, will be in place on Friday and will remain in effect throughout the weekend. In addition to the checkpoints, the CHP will deploy officers in I.V. to deter people from drinking and driving.
“We try to put out as many uniformed officers as we can, especially in the I.V. area,” Clotworthy said. “Our goal is to maintain order and provide service and safety.”
The Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. will also have personnel in I.V. for Halloween, Fire Dept. Captain Keith Cullom said, but due to the crowded streets during the weekend the department may limit its emergency response to incidents that cannot be handled by law enforcement officers.
“We’re not responding the same way we normally will,” Cullom said. “We may let law enforcement solve the problem, rather than send a fire truck to drive through thousands of people, which could cause problems.”
Linver said the IVFP recently secured a small Nextel service tower to ensure that IVFP officers can communicate reliably by cell phone over the weekend. He said the large crowds of people who visit I.V. during Halloween often overload the existing towers, making communication by cell phone all but impossible at peak times. The best way to contact emergency response personnel this weekend is to find them on the street, Linver said, because there is no guarantee that students who use cell phones will be able to get through to 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency.
“There’s going to be so many law enforcement officers out there, so go out and yell at us,” Linver said. “If anybody has anyone injured at their house, or believes someone to be a victim of alcohol poisoning, call us. We’re not going to arrest you – we’ll just get them the treatment they need.”
Cullom said recent tragedies such as the death of local resident Tyler VonRuden, who fell from the bluffs along Del Playa Drive on Sept. 25, illustrate why local law enforcement takes its pre-Halloween preparations so seriously.
“I would encourage everybody to respect other people’s needs, be prudent and use good judgment when you’re out enjoying yourself,” Cullom said. “A sizable majority of the incidents that happen out there involving the kids are preventable. We understand that, and the tragedy of a lot of these things is the kids don’t think about what that does to their family and their parents if they’re killed. So use your head.”