About 300,000 people attended desert music festivals this year.
But despite the record crowds Sergeant Dan Marshall with the Indio Police Department says crime was down, “We were down all the way across the board I believe 13 roughly 13 to 15 percent for both Coachellas and then I believe 20 percent for Stagecoach.”
Marshall says it takes nearly a whole year of training, lots manpower and planning to get ready every year. Also helping lower arrests, before concert goers enter the venue they’re given a chance to put anything not allowed into a large barrel known as the “amnesty box” without getting in trouble.
“Not only do they collect illegal substances but if somebody brings a toenail clipper that they can’t bring into the show or a knife or something that they just forget,” he says at the end of the concerts they collect a couple boxes full of outlawed substances and items, they get a court order that allows them to be incinerated.
Public safety isn’t just about weapons and illegal substances or people misbehaving. Traffic can make or break the festivals and make emergency situations worse.
This year he says drones helped control traffic flow, “Needed to see certain intersections if they were opened or closed or how traffic was getting to that intersection with that, having that technology made it very simple,” adding that traffic is their second priority to improve every year after safety.
But it’s not just technology, he says a mutual respect between concert goers and officers there to enforce the law matters, “Part of that comes with how we treat the crowd and how we interact with people because there are far more of them than there are of us … and I think the people that go to the concert realize that we are there to help, we are there to ensure within the frameworks of the law that everybody has a good time.”
Marshall says they’re always ready for anything but the biggest issue they had to deal with was a wind event that caused campers check in delays. But he credits the community’s support for this being a non issue, “It was a great festival season we had a couple curve balls thrown at us you know the delay in camping but the community’s rallied behind us on that and rallied behind the concert goers and we didn’t get one arrest out of that whole day when the festival goers were waiting to get onto the grounds.”
Marshall says after the concerts they do an report filled with things that went right, wrong and ideas for the following year and get to work on planning.