Oct 262012
 

The Daily Reflector

Lt. D.C. Ivey talks about some of the precautions Greenville Police Department will be taking for the upcoming downtown Halloween scene during a meeting at City Council Chambers on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

By Jane Dail

Friday, October 26, 2012

Adding manpower, controlling access and searching partygoers will help police handle the ‘hurricane’ that is Halloween in Greenville, the interim chief said this week.

“Whether we like it or not, Halloween happens in Greenville,” Joe Bartlett said during a Wednesday session on the department’s plans for the annual celebration downtown.

“It’s kind of like a hurricane: We know it’s coming, we can see its coming, we know when it’s going to hit, but we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when it gets here,” said Bartlett, who is retiring on Wednesday after 30 years with the department.”
“We’re trying to prepare for the worst and hope and prepare for the best.”

Thousands are expected downtown on Halloween and perhaps this weekend if rains from an actual hurricane, Sandy, do not dampen celebrations that coincide with Saturday’s home football game between East Carolina and Navy.

The department will increase staffing through Nov. 4 to handle crowds and on Wednesday will cordon off a “celebration area” in the blocks surrounding the intersection of Cotanche and Fifth streets. Starting at 4:30 p.m., vehicle traffic will not be allowed through until after 2 a.m.

Each entry point will have an inspection station, where police will search and use metal detectors on people going into the secured area. They will be looking for illegal substances, alcohol, weapons and anything that can be perceived as a weapon.

Bartlett said the voluntary inspections keep the event safer.

“If you don’t want to be inspected, that’s fine,” he said. “You can turn around and leave, but you can’t go into the secured area. That’s the philosophy we’ve had for several years and we’ve been very fortunate.”

Bartlett said problems in the past have included fights, alcohol violations, inappropriate touching and flashing.

Last year’s crowd was relatively small due to rain. This year police expect 7-8,000 people.

A proactive approach has helped police control what goes on, Bartlett said. “We’ve done that by establishing some perimeters, closing some streets early before the crowd gets there and controlling access, and we’ve been successful with that.”

Mutual aid agreements with other departments help keep costs as low as possible, Bartlett said.

“As far as Halloween (downtown), there’s no set figure, but it will cost above and beyond normal payroll because there will be some incurred overtime,” he said. “We try to minimize that through flexing schedules and rearranging assignments. … It’s hard to tell in the course of a two-week pay period how much is directly related to Halloween, but we do try to minimize that.”

About 100 law enforcement officers will work during trick-or-treating hours on Wednesday and then report to the downtown area, Lt. Chris Ivey said.

Personnel from will assist from several agencies including the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, the ECU Police Department, N.C. Probation and Parole and police departments in Ayden, Jacksonville, Washington and Winterville, Ivey said.

“There will be some extra magistrates on duty down at the detention center if we need to make any more arrests,” Ivey said. “This event, as any other, we’re seeking voluntary compliance.

“We want everybody to have a good time and be safe.”

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

 

Rules and regulations for downtown Halloween night:

  • Barricades will be set up at 4:30 p.m. and vehicular traffic will not be allowed.
  • Illegal substances, alcohol, weapons and anything that can be perceived as a weapon will not be permitted through the inspection points.
  • Inspection points will have metal detectors.
  • Masks are discouraged and people wearing them will be asked to remove them as they enter the celebration area.
  • Anyone dressed up and making an overt attempt to impersonate a law enforcement officer will be arrested.
  • Admission into the celebration area will be closed at 1:30 a.m., except for business owners or employees, who must have passes.
  • Medical personnel will be at the northern section of Five Points public parking lot, at the corner of Fifth and Evans streets.
  • Officers will start clearing the streets shortly after 2 a.m.

via The Daily Reflector.

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