Police Community Advisory Board talks Halloween

A woman handcuffed for public intoxication, Oct. 31, 2014. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

A woman handcuffed for public intoxication, Oct. 31, 2014. Photo credit: Lindsay Pincus

Kaley Wise

The Police Community Advisory Board met Oct. 19 in an open forum to discuss Halloween operation plans.

“There was a knock at the door and when we answered a belligerent college kid came in and proceeded to ask us why we were in his apartment. When we told him it wasn’t his apartment he persisted and got verbally abusive, eventually his hands grasped around my girlfriend’s neck,” junior Harley Gillespie said.

Gillespie recalls Halloween of 2015, when a random person walked into his apartment and put his girlfriend in a chokehold.

These occurrences are common in Chico during Halloween weekend, a time that is popular for many out of town folks to parade through Chico wreaking havoc, according to past crime statistics.

Chico Chief of Police Michael O’Brien met with board members to discuss this year’s plans to ensure a safe Halloween. Last year, the Chico Police Department was able to bring in 32 extra personnel from other California State universities during the Halloween weekend.

Although the police department was unable to bring in any additional officers for the upcoming holiday, they have reached out to other community groups, such as Fish and Game and Crisis Response, to have sufficient personnel stationed throughout popular party locations.

There will be a five-day operational period starting from Oct. 27 to Oct. 31. O’Brien stated that each year it is difficult to gauge the amount of activity, though they are predicting that Saturday will be the busiest day.

Though Chico is known for its renowned partying on popular holidays such as Halloween, the police department remarked that it has been “much tamer” in recent years.

“Keep it Chico,” O’Brien said, is one of the most important goals oriented toward this weekend and he advised to not invite out-of-towners in order to keep the community safe.

“We all have to take an active role in keeping our environment safe,” O’Brien said.

University Police Department Chief John Feeney said that problems are likely to occur when students have “open-door” parties and are unaware of who is coming in.

“This is when the shootings and stabbings can occur,” Feeney said.

Community members have reported some large parties getting out of control, or when the host is unable to shut down the parties themselves.

“I have had large parties at my house on Ivy Street, where lines to get in were all the way to the street,” Kristen Bohannon said. “I probably knew less than half the people at my house and one of my friends said he got a knife pulled on him in our backyard. That was the last time I had a huge party like that at my house.”

Last year during Halloween weekend, officers arrested 7 of 8 gang members who were visiting from Stockton, California. Officers found money, marijuana and two pistols in their possession.

Officials said that the most important thing to do this weekend is to stay in large groups, don’t take back-alley shortcuts with dim lighting and call 911 if something isn’t right.

O’Brien remarked that Lonnie Keith, a former physician’s assistant, has been known to prey on girls walking alone in dark alleys in Chico and to exercise caution.

Both Chico Police Department and University Police Department urge students who see something to say something.

“It is better to call us and deal with it early on before the situation gets worse,” O’Brien said.

In past years, there have been alcohol-related deaths during Halloween weekend.

“The most important thing to do is bring medical attention if someone is overly intoxicated,” O’Brien said. “Too many people die because of over consumption of alcohol. We are there to help people, not punish.”

Kaley Wise can be reached at [email protected] or @Kaley_jo_wise on Twitter.