Over 200 officers are joining the herd of out-of-towners descending on Isla Vista this weekend to celebrate Halloween.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lt. Sol Linver said he does not think this year’s celebration will be as big as last year, but the IVFP is preparing for the worst regardless. He said the last time Halloween fell on a Tuesday was in 2000, when there were approximately 180 arrests, and he expects there will be fewer arrests than the 273 made last year.
Officers will be enforcing the Santa Barbara County festival ordinance – in effect over the weekend – which mandates that no loud music may be played from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Approximately 140 officers will be on duty Friday and Halloween night, Linver said, but that number will be reduced to less than 50 patrolling deputies on Sunday and Monday. He said he expects Saturday to be the most impacted night, and plans to have all 200 officers working in I.V. and around campus.
Sgt. Erik Raney, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. public information officer, said police officers from all over the area – including Santa Paula, Santa Maria and Oxnard – come to I.V. to patrol the town on Halloween.
The officers will be on foot, on bikes, on horses, in plain-clothes or in car patrols. In addition, Linver said, there will be a field team at Embarcadero Hall to book arrested revelers. UC police officers from UC Riverside and UC Los Angeles will also be on hand to patrol the campus.
Because ambulances will be unable to go down Del Playa Drive this weekend, as it will be flooded will costumed partiers, several search and rescue teams will be on hand. A fire paramedic crew will also be stationed on Sabado Tarde Road in a pickup truck.
As in previous years, floodlights will line DP on the 6500 and 6600 blocks, but there will not be lights set up on the 6700 block, Linver said, because two were vandalized last year.
Linver said the most important thing for Halloween revelers to remember is to protect themselves from easily avoided dangers. He said residents should lock up their expensive belongings because the burglary rate goes up nearly 300 percent over the holiday.
He said residents should be on the look out for gang members and other people who come from areas such as LA and Oxnard to victimize students. He said 14 officers are assigned for the weekend specifically to target gang crime and violence.
“They just come out here to vandalize cars and burglarize houses,” he said of the gang members. “I will not tolerate the guys who walk around thumping students.”
The number of sexual assaults also goes up during Halloween, and Linver said the IVFP will not treat harassment lightly. If an officer witnesses any incident of harassment, he said, the attacker will immediately be arrested.
“Ladies don’t put up with that out here. They shouldn’t have to,” Linver said.
Linver said the number of cases where a date rape drug is used will probably be on the rise, and women should be careful not to take drinks from people they do not know.
During Halloween weekend, the increase in the number in alcohol-related incidents often inundates the emergency room to maximum capacity. Linver said the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital had to divert people to Santa Barbara for an hour on the Saturday of last year’s Halloween because the ER was too full.
This year, he said, the hospital plans to open more rooms and have more ambulances on the streets to accommodate the dramatic increase in medical emergencies.
Last year, there were 40 reported alcohol poisonings, and Linver said he hopes students will call the police if someone they know is displaying symptoms of alcohol sickness.
“I don’t want students to be afraid to call us,” he said. “All my people have been instructed that if someone has alcohol poisoning, they will get the medical attention they need.”
Carolyn Buford, UCSB associate dean of students, said the university has campaigned to keep Halloween local this year because county officials and the UCSB community – including students – are tired of out-of-towners flooding I.V. for the holiday.
According to the “Keep it Local! Keep it Safe!” flier released by the university, the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office has pledged, for the first time, to seek the highest fines for all offenses committed over the holiday. Buford said the county is focused on diminishing I.V.’s infamous Halloween party scene.
Buford said she thinks a number of students share the county and university’s sentiment that out-of-towners should stay away. She said one year she saw students holding a sign that said, “Go Away,” at the intersection of Sabado Tarde Road and El Embarcadero.
“I get the sense students would like Halloween to be a local event,” Buford said.
Ray Mirza, a fourth-year law & society major who lives on Trigo Road, said I.V. Halloween lives up the its reputation, and he does not mind the influx of out-of-towners.
“I actually have people coming into town,” he said.
Mirza said he will park his car on campus over the weekend because he thinks that the crowds can get out of control during the holiday.
“I’m getting a parking permit because of what I saw last year, like people who were hitting cars,” Mirza said.
Some local business are extending their hours during the holiday weekend to cash in on the surplus of students. Mehrdad Homayouni, owner of Sam’s to Go, said the I.V. eatery extended their hours for the first time last year, and will be working late again this year.
“We will be working until we get tired,” he said. “We didn’t used to stay open; it is tough to handle.”
Homayouni said he was forced to close the restaurant one night last year because they ran out of supplies. He said another problem he had last year was getting people to come to work.
“Everyone called in sick that week,” Homayouni said.