Alternative events lead to calmer Halloween nights

Mozes Zarate

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Screen shot 2013-11-05 at 9.58.51 PMThis year, Halloween revelry peaked on Thursday and petered out after Saturday night, partially because of efforts by community groups to offer alternatives to partying downtown, police said.

Both university police and officers from the Chico Police Department worked together to keep Chico safe during the turbulent weekend.

University Police

Police presence may have helped deter crime, said Lt. Corinne Beck of the University Police Department.

“In that light, we had every available officer working and multiple officers assigned to foot teams operating in beats throughout campus,” she said.

University police made 14 arrests between Thursday and Sunday, Beck said. Not all of those arrests were related to Halloween celebrations.

Chico Police

Because many bars and liquor stores closed at midnight, Halloween wrapped up early for party-goers, said Lt. George Laver of the Chico Police Department.

“Crowds started building between 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., then started petering out around 12:30 a.m. or so,” he said.

At around midnight Friday, officers dispersed a crowd of hundreds gathered at a party on Ninth Street and Normal Avenue. Most of the party-goers were compliant, but some threw bottles at officers trying to direct crowds, Laver said. The department has to staff up for the holidays to keep the crowds in line.

“If we don’t do something to be proactive and try and keep a lid on things, then things could blow up on us,” he said.

Saturday night was surprisingly quiet, possibly because of the windy evening weather,  Laver said.

“I think people just decided they weren’t interested in being out in the cold,” he said.

Last year, Halloween landed on a Wednesday. A similar amount of officers patrolled the streets on the weekend before.

“It’s kind of what we have come to expect for Halloween and the weekends that surround it,” Laver said. “It gets very steady for us, and the number of arrests go up, but part of that is because we have more cops out and about contacting and dealing with people.”

About $75,000 of the department’s overtime budget was allotted for Halloween weekend, Laver said during a police community advisory meeting earlier this month.

Because some foot patrol officers went home early on quieter nights like Saturday, Laver predicted that the cost of overtime between Thursday and Saturday would amount to around $60,000 instead.

Laver thanked students for any efforts they made to keep the nights under control.

“Obviously, they have a responsibility to the community that they’re attending school in,” Laver said. “But if they choose to go sideways and make things happen in a negative way, we would have to react to that. Since that didn’t happen, I can only assume that it was a concerted effort on their part to try and maintain control, and we appreciate that.”

Alternative events

Halloween Happenings week was successful and had a lot of student participation, said Denise Crosswhite, A.S. program coordinator.

There were nearly 400 attendees at the Halloween Block Party, which consisted of students. At the Haunted Hub, there were approximately 200 participants who went through the haunted house.

About 75 people attended the last event of the week, the Halloween Hype Dance Party.

“All the Halloween events were well-attended, which is great,” Crosswhite said.

 

Lindsay Pincus contributed to this report.

Mozes Zarate and Lindsay Pincus can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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