Police predict no Fourth problems

Although Huntington Beach has been criticized of late for its high rate of DUIs and alcohol-related crimes downtown, the Police Department isn't anticipating any major problems on Fourth of July.

Years ago, the city had to deal with fights, fires and riots, but that's history, said Lt. Russell Reinhart.

"We're very busy, but we haven't had big problems in many years," he said.

The situation is better because of downtown's newer commercial and residential developments, Reinhart said.

Huntington Beach's police force is down 28 officers since last year because of budget cuts; however, many officers are scheduled to work overtime and the department will be prepared, Reinhart said.

Each law enforcement official in the Police Department works Fourth of July weekend.

"No days off, no vacations, nothing like that," Reinhart said.

Officers are divided into teams for the weekend. The special enforcement team responds to all the party calls about noise complaints during the day. Firework suppression teams respond to calls about illegal fireworks.

The California Highway Patrol, the Orange County Sheriff's Department and a private security firm will augment the HBPD.

Large crowds are expected. Up to 400,000 people may visit Huntington over the holiday weekend.

"We have a great parade, a great firework celebration," Reinhart said. "Huntington Beach is a very patriotic community, so we have a very busy day, but it's a fun-busy day for the residents and the visitors. We don't have anything that I would characterize as problems."

During the day, 10 CHP officers and two sergeants will assist with traffic. In the evening, 10 sheriff's deputies and one sergeant will help keep the peace. The city pays both departments about $10,000 for the day. Private security assigned to crowd control will cost about $24,000.

All fireworks, including those deemed safe and sane, are illegal in Huntington Beach.

Possessing fireworks can lead to fines and arrests, depending on the type of fireworks.

On Monday, the first police shift starts at 4:30 a.m. with the closure of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway for the Surf City Run July 4th 5K and Fourth of July Parade.

In the afternoon, the streets reopen, but PCH will close again before the public firework display, Reinhart said.

"Just have a safe and fun Fourth of July," he said. "Plan ahead and don't get frustrated while you're waiting in line."

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