Smarting from the disturbances caused last month by rowdy college students celebrating their spring vacation in this desert resort, city officials said Wednesday that dozens of additional police officers will be on the streets next year for the annual swarm of revelers.
Police Chief Thomas Kendra said he expects that publicity from this year’s events will attract even more students next year and that he will contract with neighboring police agencies to beef up the force and “minimize the risk” of a “riot that could sack downtown.”
Kendra’s plan was announced after a special town hall meeting attended by about 40 residents and merchants who shared ideas on how to prevent another disturbance like the one that surged through town on the weekend of March 28.
Some of the estimated 15,000 students in town dumped water on passing motorists, ripped the clothes off women and threw rocks and bottles at police. Authorities made more than 530 arrests during the weeklong rite, which cost the city $100,000 in overtime salaries and $40,000 in damages.
Wednesday’s meeting produced suggestions ranging from the closure of Palm Canyon Drive, which runs through the main business sector, to placing troublemakers under arrest and make them “wear vests that say ‘prisoner’ while they clean up the streets,” Mayor Frank Bogert said.
“These are fine ideas, but they won’t work,” Bogert said. He added, however, that “we will do everything legal we can” to prevent another disturbance next year.
‘Bigger Show of Police’
“We will start with a bigger show of police up and down the street,” Bogert said. “We’ve now got 70 officers working around the clock. Naturally, we’ll have to have more during that week, maybe 100.”
Kendra said he is working on a plan to add officers next year who would be hired on a contractual basis from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol.
“It would be similar to the way Pasadena hired sheriff’s deputies to work during the Rose Parade,” he said. “But it is all subject to the approval of the agencies involved.”