Reporter's Notebook: Halloween patrol reveals calm night

As Huntington Beach police Sgt. Kent Ferrin made his laps around the city's downtown area, costumed patrons commented on his standard black uniform.

"Hey, that's a really convincing cop costume," and "I've seen better cop costumes tonight" or some iteration of those phrases were said over and over by young adults on Halloween night as they stood in line, waiting to enter bars and restaurants.

"I don't think I can hear that one more time," Ferrin said. "It's going to drive me crazy."

I had the opportunity to shadow the police sergeant for the night, as a chance to see firsthand what the downtown beat is like during Halloween.

I've heard countless stories from residents about alcohol-fueled disruptions downtown, including a few regarding teens drinking during Oct. 31 partying. Maybe during the ride-along, or what turned out to be a walk-along, I'd be able to see for myself what those in the neighborhood have seen for years.

My Thursday started around 10 p.m. Cleanup of the Business Improvement District's Halloween Fest on Main Street was just about ready to allow cars through. Costumed children and adults wandering in the streets were herded to the sidewalks.

Soon the shrieks of children with bags full of candy were replaced with the hollering of twentysomethings looking to party.

Some of the male revelers put effort into their costumes while most women came as a sexy fill-in-the-blank. There was even a group of people dressed as the Aquabats dancing around the water fountain and running through the area.

Sgt. Ferrin wasn't fazed by the slowly increasing number of people congregating. He remained poised, scanning the crowd for any misbehavior.

Ferrin has been with the Huntington Beach Police Department for five years as the supervisor for the special enforcement team downtown. He coordinates six people assigned to the area on a daily basis.

The sergeant has worked every downtown Halloween shift since he's been with the department and said this night was quieter than previous years.

"They've had bigger events down here before with more people," Ferrin said, "But this one seems to be pretty calm."

And the night would remain that way for the next two hours. There were queues outside most of the major restaurants, but the amount of people in the area wasn't at amusement park-like levels.

Ferrin's radio was silent for the majority of night. It only got use when he assisted a woman who needed help verifying her age for bouncers at 2nd Floor bar.

Other than that, it was all quiet on the downtown front. And Ferrin was happy about it.

We walked through nearly every nook of the area, passing through Pierside Pavilion onto Third Street, up and around Walnut, Olive and Orange avenues and down Fifth Street. We even ventured through the parking structure, but there wasn't anything suspicious.

Ferrin and I ended up on the balcony next to the entrance of Hurricane's Bar and Grill; a spot he frequents where he can see the lay of the land without visitors suspecting a thing.

It was about 11:30 p.m. and we watched patrons talking to one another, laughing and the Aquabats making another lap through Main Street.

"The people are happy," he said. "A lot of times you'll see a lot of posturing, where guys are trying to be tough guys, and I haven't even seen any of that tonight. Everybody's in a good mood."

I left the area around midnight without having seen any trouble, but that didn't mean there wasn't any.

Ferrin sent me an email Saturday telling me that there were three fights around 1 a.m., but there were no major injuries.

To me, it sounded like any other Thursday night in downtown Huntington Beach.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World