102 arrests during Vans U.S. Open of Surfing are 30% increase from last year, H.B. police say

Huntington Beach police reportedly made 102 arrests during the recent nine-day Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, which draws more than 500,000 people annually to the south side of the pier.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Huntington Beach police reportedly made 102 arrests during the recent nine-day Vans U.S. Open of Surfing — a 30% increase compared with the same period last year.

City officials attributed the rise to the recent hot weather that drew more people to the beach.

Police Chief Robert Handy told the City Council on Monday that this year’s surfing and action-sports cultural event was “fairly safe,” though the July 27-Aug. 4 period included an incident the night of July 31 in which police officers allegedly were attacked by a group on the city beach. Handy did not link that to the U.S. Open itself.

Seven people have been charged in connection with a melee last week that sent a Huntington Beach police officer to a hospital and left multiple other officers injured, police said.

Aug. 5, 2019

The time period also included three mass shootings around the country, which put “a little different threat picture” on the U.S. Open, though police are always preparing for such occurrences, Handy said.


In addition to the arrests, police recorded 357 civil citations, the majority of which were alcohol-related, and 688 traffic citations, Handy said. Both categories also saw an uptick from last year’s event. Handy said police more than doubled their efforts to enforce traffic laws on Pacific Coast Highway and in residential areas and cracked down on motorcycle noise.

Fire and marine safety officials reported five cases of medical aid during the event, a significant decrease from last year’s period, Handy said.

Director of Community Services Marie Knight told the council that visitors offered positive feedback via social media about this year’s security measures, with some families saying they felt much safer.

Knight cited a larger police presence and stepped-up bag inspections for people entering the U.S. Open.

“We’ve tried and successfully morphed this event into a much more family-friendly event,” Knight said. “Two weekends of very hot weather inland ... drew a lot of people to the beach in general, so that brought them down to what we know as the largest lifestyle sporting event in the nation, and we did really well. The city looked really good.”

Mayor Erik Peterson thanked city staff and the Police Department for their work. He also praised how Handy’s officers handled last week’s melee.

“That could’ve gotten out of control very easily,” Peterson said. “I’m amazed at the restraint you guys show in these situations.”