Newport Beach City Council heard a preview of Fourth of July activities and police measures during their study session on Tuesday.
“Fourth of July is right upon us,” said Newport Beach Police Department Deputy Chief David McGill.
Thousands of people flock to Newport Beach on July 4 every year.
“We don’t mind that at all, as long as folks behave,” McGill said. “We want everybody to have fun, we want every body to enjoy it.”
“Presenting the good with the bad, police and recreation staff will update the Council and community on fun and family-friendly celebrations and the various rules and regulations that apply if people get overzealous in their celebrations for Independence Day,” the staff report reads.
This is year six of their multi-year plan, McGill noted during his presentation.
“We’ve come a long way,” McGill said. “We’ve had quite a lot of success.”
Councilman Keith Curry agreed. It used to be an entirely different situation, he said.
“It was like visiting a city that I’ve never been to before,” he noted.
Streets were completely blocked off, no barriers were up, access to stores were closed and people were bringing in coolers of their own liquor, were just a few of the issues, Curry noted.
Curry commended McGill and other police authorities for “taking back” the holiday for the community and residents.
There haven’t been any major problems in the last several years, McGill said.
The NBPD plan includes goals to educate/inform/prevent, provide a heavy police presence to ensure public safety, and get to “Normal Community Operations” or a “sense of normalcy on a very busy holiday,” McGill explained.
It also allows them to rapidly respond and be flexible to address issues as they develop during the day, he added.
The “Safety Enhancement Zone” will see increased police presence on July 4. Zone boundaries are between Coast Highway, Newport Boulevard, 32nd Street, 54th Street/JoAnne Place, and the beach.
The zone is the NBPD’s main focus, although police will still be spread throughout the rest of the city, McGill reassured the council and public.
“We’re not just down there, we’re all over the place,” McGill said. “We plan strategically throughout the day.”
Although the peninsula is the focus, it’s not at the expense of the rest of the city, commented Councilman Tony Petros.
“People are still safe and will be attended to throughout the city,” Petros said.
The full force of NBPD will be on duty, McGill added.
“Every one of our employees will be working this holiday, in addition to the outside folks that we have,” McGill said.
Among the units and partners who have worked the holiday in the past and are returning to help are the Orange County Sheriff’s Department helping with the jail, Anaheim, Irvine and University of California, Irvine, police departments, and California Highway Patrol. Orange PD will also be on hand to help this year.
The Mounted Enforcement Unit will be back as well, McGill added. While effective, they need to do a better job picking up after them, McGill said. A plan is in place to improve that task, he added.
Last year, the command post and mobile booking station moved to NBPD station, which worked out well, McGill commented. They added more effective cameras on the peninsula as well, which gave McGill more eyes on all the activity happening in the area.
Police also monitored social media last year, which created “a little bit of a stir,” McGill said. It’s all public information, he noted.
“It’s just us trying to keep one step ahead of the way folks communicate these days and trying to figure out where the parties are going to be, where the hot spots are going to be,” he explained.
In 2014, they also re-introduced the Fireworks Enforcement Team, which will be increased this year. They are trying to relay the message to the community that fireworks are illegal in Newport Beach, McGill said.
This year, officers will receive enhanced training and there will be some heavy deployment and mounted enforcement on Friday night. The Superior Avenue parking lot will also be open this year.
In 2014, police issued 699 citations on July 4, only six less than the year before. That’s a normal amount for the holiday, McGill explained. Parking citations went significantly down last year, at 193 issued. That’s 118 less than 2013. There were also 26 Disturbance Advisement Cards in 2014, which was 19 more than the previous year. They issued one Loud and Unruly Gathering Ordinance citation, the same both years.
Police also made 120 arrests. About 90 percent of the arrests were non-residents. Most were male. Most were for public drunkenness, driving while under the influence and assault. The average age of those arrested was 25, but ranged from 16 to 65.
Also during the presentation, Sean Levin Deputy Director Recreation and Senior Services invited the community to two events on Fourth of July.
The 43rd Annual Mariners Park Independence Day Parade and Celebration will start at 10:30 a.m. at Commodore Road and Mariners Drive and ends at 1:30 p.m. at Mariners Park.
The city partners Mariners School Foundation to host the event, which features family friendly attractions and games.
Another family friendly event is the fifth annual Fourth of July is for Families & Fun bike parade and festival starting at 9 a.m. on the peninsula at 38th Street Park and ending in Channel Place Park with festivities.
There will be games and activities, including a dunk tank that may feature some of the council members.