Mardi Gras weekend was exactly what San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deborah Linden wanted.
“We’re really hoping you will be bored stiff all weekend,” she told an estimated 350 policemen at a briefing on Friday night at Santa Rosa Park, the field operations headquarters for the weekend.
Linden and her staff, comprised of officers from agencies all over the state, took every precaution necessary to ensure a quiet weekend in San Luis Obispo. On the contrary, in 2004, riots broke out near student housing on Foothill and California Boulevards.
In 2005, 82 arrests were made over a three-day period, according to a press release from the San Luis Obispo Police Department.This year, that number went down to 32 over both Friday and Saturday night. According to Kim Walker, SLOPD public information officer, a majority of the arrests were drunk in public. Police issued 51 citations over the weekend, with almost half given for alcohol-related offenses. But overall, officers felt that “The Party is Still Over” campaign was a success.
“There hasn’t been much happening. We are making sure the people working the doors (at the bars) are monitoring occupancy load,” said Jim Tringham, San Luis Obispo fire marshal. “Everybody has been pretty cooperative so far.”
By 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, areas near California and Foothill Boulevards were relatively quiet. Though it was just what the police force wanted, some students did not agree with the campaign.
“I think it’s ridiculous. There are too many cops for too few people,” said Travis Robertson-Carter, 22, a sophomore at Cuesta College.
Robertson-Carter, a Woodstock’s delivery driver, was pulled over and ticketed for a seat belt violation. When pulling out of the Alpha Gamma Rho parking lot on California Boulevard, he made a wide U-turn and nearly hit police officers on the corner of California and Foothill Boulevards. A few minutes later, he was pulled over again on Casa Street and ticketed for reckless driving.
“They need to keep students safe, but all they are doing is keeping people from doing anything at all,” he said. “They need to control a situation if it arises.”
On Friday and Saturday night, two DUI checkpoints were set up around town; one at the intersection of Marsh Street and Osos Street and the other where Foothill Boulevard meets Chorro Street. A total of 1,248 cars were screened on both Friday and Saturday night. By early Saturday morning, 20 sobriety tests had been given and one citation was given.
Though most of Friday night was quiet, an unknown group of students turned over a car on Stafford Street and on the 1200 block of Foothill Boulevard, an unknown person threw a bottle at a peace officer, according to police. In either instance, no one was apprehended.
This year, roughly 100 police were stationed downtown, and nearly 250 police on bikes, motorcycles, horses and in cars were positioned along California Boulevard.
At the police briefing on Friday, Linden said that 2005 was a huge success and there were no complaints from citizens due to noise disturbances.
The streets were empty and few cars were driving around by 12:30 a.m. Sunday.
Downtown was busy on Saturday night, with groups overfilling bars, but aside from a few traffic violations, no disturbances were reported, according to police.