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Sheriff's Deputies Will Back Santa Monica Police at Big Events
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

 

By Hector Gonzalez
Special to The Lookout

May 12, 2016 -- Twilight Concert-goers will see more brown-shirted deputies backing Santa Monica's men and women in blue this summer at the massively popular ten-week series of live music performances at the Pier.

Deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department could be called to support the 216-officer Santa Monica Police Department, not only during the Twilight shows but whenever City officials expect a particular event to draw crowds of 20,000 or more.

Crowds that size aren't out of the question for this summer's concert series, given that the Expo Light Rail Line starts rolling May 20, bringing thousands of visitors from across the county into the heart of bayside city.

City officials consider 20,000 people packed into a relatively small space such as the Twilight Concert's Pier venue a real challenge for law enforcement.

So for the past two concert series, the City has used county deputies to help patrol the music event, spending $155,194 for their services.

Now, under a new contract approved by the City Council Tuesday, deputies could possibly take on even bigger crowd-control presence at Santa Monica events.

The Sheriff's Department will be paid as much as $260,000 a year to have deputies at the ready to assist at big events when needed. The new contract, which is subject to annual renewal by the Council, will not exceed $1.3 million, staff said in a report.

The number of deputies required for an event would be determined in advance by City officials “based on the expectations for that event and the crowds expected,” said staff.

At the past two Twilight Concert series, the City has used 20 to 24 deputies to help patrol the event.

Now in its 32nd year, the concert series continues drawing bigger and bigger crowds from year to year, “with attendees sometimes approaching 30,000,” said staff.

That many concert-goers creates problems not only for people walking in the area but for police trying to maneuver through thick crowds.

It also is difficult to monitor illegal behavior among beach spectators to the shows, in part because the performances are after dark.

Also, there are no clear paths through the crowd as people tend to sit blanket to blanket, making it harder for police to catch violators, staff said.

“Violations occurring on the beach are numerous,” staff said. “The beach experiences numerous violations, including alcohol consumption, unlawful smoking, narcotic use and the presence of glass on the beach.”

Should an emergency occur at a concert, local police will get help right away from deputies at the scene, rather than having to pull additional officers from their regular patrols.

“Having the ability to hire LASD personnel and adequately staff any event allows the police department to patrol the rest of the city without any reduction in service,” staff said.


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