Fat Tuesday in San Luis Obispo proved to be nearly as busy for the police department as Saturday night with 13 arrests, nine of which were arrests for drug and alcohol related offenses.
That brought the total of Mardi Gras weekend arrests to 48. Of those arrests, 25 were alcohol related, 23 were traffic citations and the remaining seven were for noise violations, public urination and possession of marijuana, according to SLOPD.
This is a 42 percent reduction inarrests from 2005, when police arrested 82 people. Police arrested 206 people during Mardi Gras in 2004, with 195 arrested in conjunction with the riot.
Police officers from outside the area were released from duty by midnight Sunday. Only SLOPD remained downtown before dawn Sunday to watch revelers.
“This is great. The message has been received,” SLOPD Captain Dan Blanke said.
The weekend did have some setbacks however. Three of the arrested on Saturday night were San Jose State University students that came to San Luis Obispo specifically for Mardi Gras. Additionally, two underage Cal Poly students were arrested for attempting to sneak alcohol into Taco Bell on Tuesday night.
Before the 2004 riot, San Luis Obispo was home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration west of the Mississippi, according to SLOPD Lt. Steve Tolley.
“Letting the damage continue is not an option,” Tolley said. He added that the SLOPD budget for Mardi Gras was $300,000 this year.
Tolley said that the total cost of $1 million was not spent excessively. Damage to property hurts property owners and community residents, not the city, he said.
He helped control the Poly Royal riot and the Mardi Gras 2004 riot, and said he sees value in the prevention of riots.
“Losing an eye is worth more than $1 million,” Tolley said.
The city will scale back the number of police in San Luis Obispo for the next Mardi Gras. The city’s final Mardi Gras costs will not be available for several days.