Only 25,000 people spent Halloween on the streets of Isla Vista this year.
Despite the reduced crowd — 45,000 people attended last year and 50,000 were expected this weekend — belligerent drunks and intoxicated minors kept the police busy. Officers arrested 311 revelers and issued 720 cita-tions, an increase from last year when police made 234 arrests and doled out 551 citations.
The majority of the crime, I.V. Foot Patrol Lt. Brian Olmstead said, was alcohol-related.
“I would definitely love to see the size of the crowds go down,” Olmstead said. “[Halloween’s] not a real posi-tive event for the community. You just have a situation where people are drinking irresponsibly, and there are a lot of bad things that can happen. … You can really have a real disaster.”
In addition to the arrests and citations, there were 77 hospitalizations over the weekend, most of which involved alcohol. There were no major medical emergencies, and no one fell off the cliffs along Del Playa Drive.
While alcohol related crimes demanded the majority of police attention, Olmstead said a significant amount of violent crime also took place. On Friday, one partier suffered a traumatic head injury after a brawl.
“We did have someone that was seriously hurt on Friday night in a fight,” Olmstead said. “There were fights. … It seemed like there were a little bit more injuries related to assaults than in the past.”
Santa Barbara County Undersheriff Ken Shemwell also reported non-alcohol related injuries Saturday night, including a man who was seriously injured from a bottle thrown at his head.
“Most people [receiving emergency help] have alcohol poisoning, but we unfortunately have a man hit with a beer bottle,” Shemwell said.
In addition to law enforcement personnel, Santa Barbara County 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr was also present in I.V. on Halloween.
“I was out a couple of hours on DP,” Farr, Isla Vista’s only elected official, said. “I’m so impressed with the work of the county sheriff and all of the groups that help out. It was a good crowd. People were there to have fun and show off their costumes. There are always incidents, but I’m pleased. So far it’s been as safe as possi-ble.”
According to Olmstead, the majority of Halloween partiers were cooperative with law enforcement. The lieu-tenant also commended the work of local law enforcement officers, who worked long hours over the weekend.
“How it came together and the actual operation itself, it shows how professional of a law enforcement agency we have in the county and how much dedication deputies have for providing safety to the residents of Isla Vista,” Olmstead said.
Still, the event was extremely expensive for Santa Barbara County. Weekend operations cost the Sheriff’s Dept. $500,000, and the department estimates the total expenses for the county will come in at nearly $1 million.
Olmstead noted another Halloween cost for local officers and their families.
“We don’t get to go trick-or-treating with our kids,” Olmstead said.
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