Davis Police: Violence Down From Picnic Day 2010

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Picnic-Day-ArrestThe statistics emerging from the Davis Police Department are starting to mirror our on-the-ground perceptions of Picnic Day.  While the DPD is not offering opinions on whether this year’s Picnic Day was better or worse than last year, they indeed plan to “conduct further analysis of our [their] activity and seek input from community members and other stakeholders before offering any conclusions,” and they do report that there were fewer crimes of violence this year than last year.

“At this time the Davis Police Department is not prepared to issue any opinions about whether this year’s Picnic Day was better or worse than last year,” the department spokesperson Lt. Paul Doroshov said in a press release on Monday.

They added, “While the record of our enforcement actions may provide a sense of the types and volume of activity in which enforcement activity was taken, the police department’s overall perception of things is that there were fewer crimes of violence (reported and not reported) than during Picnic Day 2010.”

“While there was a significant amount of alcohol-driven disorder, the Davis downtown area seemed a safer place than last year. The reasons and explanations for these phenomena—good and bad—will be the subject of soon-to-be-held after-action reviews and critiques,” the Lt. Doroshov concluded.

In the release, Lt. Doroshov breaks down the 54 physical arrests to include 32 arrests for public intoxication, 6 arrests for public intoxication where the suspect resisted arrest, one arrest for felony assault and resisting arrest, 9 arrests for DUI, 3 arrests for fighting, and one each for cocaine possession, domestic violence and an outstanding arrest warrant.

The department also issued 207 citations, the majority for an open container in a public place (124 of the 207).  The rest include 37 citations for minor in possession, 20 for urinating in public, 4 for open containers in a motor vehicle, 3 for furnishing alcohol to minors, 2 for loitering, 11 for noise violations, five for marijuana possession and one for violating the smoking ordinance.

“Officers from the California Highway Patrol issued 61 tickets for various vehicle code violations and impounded 9 vehicles,” the press release added.

In assessing these data, I would point out that regarding the 20 citations for urinating in public, one problem that the city should address was the lack of available restrooms, which undoubtedly contributed to the urinating in public. Also, water in the downtown was not readily available to people walking around.  I went into the Starbucks in an attempt to get water and had to wait 20 minutes for a small cup of water per their rules, and I even offered to pay for it but that was declined. 

The question now is whether Picnic Day will continue after dozens of arrests and the death of Scott Heinig.

I would argue that things were fairly mild in the downtown area, even quiet once darkness hit.  There were not a lot of major parties that we saw. 

Old North Davis had a number of vandalism incidents and residents there are concerned that the Safety Enhancement Zone ended up pushing problems from the core to the rest of town.

I would argue that things were calmer and safer and that the arrest numbers are due largely to heightened enforcement rather than a string of problems.  People may have been intoxicated, but the problems they caused were minor.

There is little that can be done to downplay the tragic death of Scott Heinig. However, I would also argue that his death could have occurred at any time – it just happened to fall on Picnic Day.

On the other hand, while it seemed calmer, Joy Cohan from the DDBA (Davis Downtown Business Association) expressed concern in this morning’s Sacramento Bee.

She said, “The reduction in the mayhem was not quite as dramatic as we might have hoped for,” and pointed to broken merchandise and messes in the restrooms.

Apparently, some merchants are saying they will not open next year and it appeared that many closed early.

“Some people are exploring that thought more than they were a year ago at this time,” Ms. Cohan told the Bee. “People are getting more comfortable with the idea that Picnic Day needs to radically change or not exist.”

From our vantage point, things were generally calm, almost normal by the evening.  We did not see a lot of drunken people causing problems, we did not see a lot of fights, we did not see mass problems.

Our chief complaint was expressed yesterday.  While the heightened security helped to keep a lid on problems, it also created its own problems.  There were too many police hanging out in groups.  Police did not appear to have enough to do, and appeared to single out people who were not behaving much differently than the rest of the crowd.  They also reacted with huge numbers.

Nevertheless, if Ms. Cohan’s take is accurate, I think we are looking at something very different still for next year.  I suspect one reason for that is that there were simply not enough people and not enough business in the downtown to justify the few problems that were caused.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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15 thoughts on “Davis Police: Violence Down From Picnic Day 2010”

  1. SODA

    Who paid for the enhanced enforcement? It had to have cost quite a bit. Enjoying the activities on campus especially Battle of the Bands was so wonderful it was hard to believe there would be violence and arrests anywhere. Maybe closing or early is the answer to make it more a day, campus day which was the early intent.

  2. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Our chief complaint was expressed yesterday. While the heightened security helped to keep a lid on problems, it also created its own problems.[/quote]

    You’re going to have to explain how the police created their own problems?

  3. David M. Greenwald

    SODA: there was minimal violence.

    Mr. Obvious: Isn’t it obvious? There wasn’t enough to do so they hung around in crowds, were a bit obnoxious and intimidating.

  4. rdcanning

    David, which would you rather have:

    1) Hordes of drunken, obnoxious kids getting into fights, etc., or,
    2) Hordes (well maybe not hordes – how about small gangs) of cops of various persuasions with nothing better to do than harass honest journalists just trying to get a job done?

    Personally, as I tried to make my way down 3rd St. at 4:00 PM through said hordes I kind of chuckled to see the groups of orderly and peaceful peace officers standing around. Better standing around than using batons!

    Maybe next year we’ll find that mysterious balance of just enough police and just enough intoxication.

  5. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: “On the other hand, while it seemed calmer, Joy Cohan from the DDBA (Davis Downtown Business Association) expressed concern in this morning’s Sacramento Bee. She said, “The reduction in the mayhem was not quite as dramatic as we might have hoped for,” and pointed to broken merchandise and messes in the restrooms. Apparently, some merchants are saying they will not open next year and it appeared that many closed early.”

    I’m guessing that those merchants who don’t really benefit financially from Picnic Day (in other words who don’t sell alcohol/food) will choose to close rather than put up w mayhem in their stores. I don’t blame them. It’s not worth it to them. I know I stayed away from Picnic Day altogether…

    dmg: “Our chief complaint was expressed yesterday. While the heightened security helped to keep a lid on problems, it also created its own problems. There were too many police hanging out in groups. Police did not appear to have enough to do, and appeared to single out people who were not behaving much differently than the rest of the crowd. They also reacted with huge numbers.”

    Police presence serves as a deterrent, and it seems to have worked quite well. Good for Davis Police Chief Landy Black! rdcanning’s comment is spot on!!

  6. Steve Hayes

    A Brief Business History of the Davis Core Area (From Davisville to Potterville):
    (1)During the 1970’s, Davis was dry, restaurants closed down at 1000 PM at the latest, and Picnic Days were relatively quiet, peaceful, and family friendly;
    (2)During the prosperous 1980’s & 1990’s, Davis was wet with restaurants and other businesses serving alcohol closing at 1000 PM for the most part. Picnic Days were less quiet, peaceful, and family friendly, but evenings continued to be relatively peaceful;
    (3)During the trying 2000’s, the downtown restaurant business model changed, with many restaurants converting to bars/clubs after 1000 PM and remaining open until midnight or later. As a result, Davis has become a destination “Party Town” especially on weekends, and late night drunkenness and disorder has become more common. Future Picnic Days will continue to be coordinated chaos unless this trend is reversed.

  7. David M. Greenwald

    Robert: I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I think we could have had sufficient presence without the kinds of arbitrary enforcement and heavy handedness we saw on Saturday night. I think the police were expecting to have a very different situation than the one they ended up in, and they ended up board.

    Police presence does serve as a deterrent, but it also leads to other problems.

  8. Mr Obvious

    [quote]Police presence does serve as a deterrent, but it also leads to other problems. [/quote]

    You still haven’t said what problems the police created, other than being rude, which happens somewhere every day. I didn’t see any problems caused by the police just standing there.

    Do you think it would be smart to send two cops into a disturbance surrounded by hundreds of intoxicated individuals? How quickly could a simple drunk arrest turn into a mob scene? If things went bad it would take to long to get other officers there and by then the officers could be injured.

    I think you’re stretching here trying to find things to bad mouth the police about. Have you tried to talk to Chief Black about the enforcement efforts?

  9. hpierce

    Steve Hayes: Were you here in the 70’s? I was. Up until ~ 1977, you could buy beer (not sure if kegs were an option) in grocery stores. To get wine or stronger drinks for sale (except restaurants/bars), you had to go to Jakes or L&M on Chiles Road (right at the old 3 mile limit from the center of campus – old Land Grant College ‘rule’ if I remember correctly), or you had to have a vehicle to go to Frenchies (sp?) in Woodland.
    Folks got pretty ‘lubricated’ even then, but it was pretty much UC students — not much in the way of visitors. Most who imbibed did so in their dorms/apartments… you didn’t see them milling around much. There were fewer restaurants/bars in town that served “spirits”, but those who did stayed open later than 10 PM, still serving. Back then there were constant ID checks and many establishments has “bouncers”.
    I don’t disagree with the substance of your post… just the details. I believe the City currently encourages alcohol sales downtown by allowing serving businesses to locate here and allowing the use of fenced off areas of public sidewalks to accommodate this. The sales provide revenue to the City.

  10. Steve Hayes

    HPierce “…Steve Hayes: Were you here in the 70’s?…”
    I was a Ph.D. student at UCD from 1974-78 to obtain a Ph.D. Because I was married with kids, I was highly motivated to “just finish”, so I don’t remember much downtown student drinking back then. I do remember how wonderful Picnic Days were for the whole family back then though.
    On the evening of Picnic Day 2011, my wife and I sat on a bench overlooking Lake Spafford, and thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiastic student band concert as the full moon rose over the scene to the south. It was good to escape the roving masses of young adults wandering throughout downtown Davis.
    The gist of my posting is that the character of our town has changed for the worse over time, and that this systemic problem cannot be “cured” with greater law enforcement

  11. E Roberts Musser

    SH: “The gist of my posting is that the character of our town has changed for the worse over time, and that this systemic problem cannot be “cured” with greater law enforcement”

    It can be cured as Joe Krovoza suggested, by having a “dry” Picnic Day, in which no alcohol is sold…

  12. Don Shor

    There was no noticeable downtown drinking on Picnic Day during the late 1970’s. It had a very different vibe then, and I think the concentration of revelers in the downtown is marring the image of the campus and the community.
    As Bob Dunning notes in today’s column, the number of citations and arrests was up, and there were several drunk driving arrests. It is great for some businesses, but terrible for others; my week-to-week Saturday business this year was off 60% on Picnic Day. I can’t think of any solution to the downtown drinking problem that doesn’t involve restricting alcohol sales somehow.

  13. E Roberts Musser

    Don Shor: “It is great for some businesses, but terrible for others; my week-to-week Saturday business this year was off 60% on Picnic Day. I can’t think of any solution to the downtown drinking problem that doesn’t involve restricting alcohol sales somehow.”

    Bingo!

  14. David M. Greenwald

    Don: I think it’s misleading to say that arrests were up as though that somehow reflected that drinking was up from last year. The accurate statement is that enforcement of drinking was up which led to more arrests.

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