Party patrol

Photograph by Shelby Keck Revelers packed the south-campus area and downtown on a fairly mild Halloween night. There were about 75 officers on duty for Halloween weekend.
Photograph by Shelby Keck
Revelers packed the south-campus area and downtown on a fairly mild Halloween night. There were about 75 officers on duty for Halloween weekend.

Waldos, Walter Whites and a few Mileys were just some of the characters that stumbled around downtown and the south-campus Thursday night. Young adults blocked traffic and slurred “Fuck the police.”

Despite that, Chico police stayed in relatively good spirits throughout the night.

The Orion rode along with Lt. George Laver and Lt. Mike O’Brien and followed them on foot during Halloween night from about 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. to see things from the officers’ perspectives. Here’s what the night was like:

STOP 1 – 9:45 p.m. 

Lt. Laver picked Orion reporters from the Chico Police Department and headed back downtown.

“The night is pretty uneventful so far,” Laver said. “That’s a good thing.”

Bars that closed early, like Madison Bear Garden,  helped out the officers, he said. LaSalles and Crazy Horse Saloon were a different story.

LaSalles had the longest line of the night, a line that stretched off the sidewalk and into the street. These crowds would prove to be a problem as the night went on.

Crowd control issues in Chico began in 1989,  Laver said. Since then, Chico police have geared up and patrolled in force for Halloween, he said. In the early 2000s, visitors from out of town committed life-threatening, random stabbings.

Back then, there was a combined 300 officers from different agencies on duty during Halloween weekend,  Laver said. This Halloween weekend, about 75 officers were on duty.

Laver anticipated the night was going to get much rowdier.

“If we don’t have any couch fires tonight, I will be extremely surprised,” he said.

STOP 2 – 10:40 p.m. 

It became almost impossible to drive in the south campus area. The corner of Fifth and Ivy streets had never-ending lines of pedestrians crossing.

Crowds were fairly usual for that time on Halloween, Laver said.

“It’s just beginning,” he said.

A suspected DUI on Nord Avenue at the Timbers Apartments complex was called in, and Laver headed over for back-up.

About 10 young adults were packed into a pale green Jeep Cherokee and showed police and reporters their middle fingers.

“There was a boatload,” said Lt. Jennifer Gonzales.

After a sobriety test, the driver was arrested for driving under the influence, she said. His 18-year-old friend in the front seat who was holding a bottle of wine was written up for being in possession of alcohol.

STOP 3 – 11:10 p.m.

Laver headed to City Plaza to quickly catch up with some of the other officers.

Chief Kirk Trostle, District Attorney Mike Ramsey and Lt. Laver joked around, and Chief Trostle shared pictures of his children, grandchildren and his “smokin’ hot wife.”

“She still makes me tingle,” Trostle said.

Next, Laver stopped outside Crazy Horse Saloon, where a fight was reported. A man was arrested for attempting to sell narcotics and was not cooperative with police.

STOP 4 – 11:40 p.m. 

Laver wrote up a young woman who was walking alone on Fifth and Chestnut streets for being in possession of alcohol.

Four officers stood by while Laver spoke to the woman and confiscated her half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey.

The Orion then tagged along with Lt. Mike O’Brien for the remainder of the night.

STOP 5 – 12:15 a.m.

Lt. O’Brien stopped to check on a young man and woman stopped on Eighth Street who appeared to be arguing. They both responded that they were together and fine.

One of O’Brien’s biggest concerns is seeing intoxicated young women walking home alone at night, especially after all the rapes that occurred last year. He has two daughters in college and two other children.

“It’s the dad in me,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien has patrolled for Halloween weekend since 1992, except one year he got off.

He said he misses the mounted police officers and said they were very effective for crowd control.

STOP 6 – 12:45 a.m.

Many people appeared to be heading home for the night.

“It’s cleared out quite a bit,” O’Brien said.

The last order of business on the ride-along was the arrest of an out-of-town man who was very insistent that he did not throw a bottle at one of the bike trolley drivers.

“So why are you sweating so profusely?” O’Brien asked.

The night showed evidence that out-of-town visitors are still a big problem for Chico Halloween, he said.

The Orion called it a night and thanked the police for their efforts and sharing their experiences.


Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or @risapisa on Twitter.