Drink too Much? Daddy SFPD Will Take Care of St. Patty's Day Party People
The County Jail and drunk tank is available for your protection
March 17, 2004 5:12 PM
Belligerent, sun-baked, green-beer drinking party people, three leaf clovers, police, a little Celtic music and a whole lot of fun. Throw them into the street and what have you got? A San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The life of St. Patrick who converted Pagan Ireland to Catholicism is being celebrated once again on this sunny spring day. Streets in North Beach and the Financial district have been closed to traffic to allow party people to flood the streets with drinks in hand — creating an opportune time to drink more than the liver can process.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) will have officers present to take care of people who consume more alcohol than they can handle and any other situation that arises in which they can offer a helping hand. Twenty to 25 officers will be at the three locations where streets are closed including, O’Reilly’s on Green Street, Harrington Bar and Grill on Front Street and The Irish Bank on Mark Lane.
Street closure is the most effective way of keeping everybody safe, or keeping traffic away from drunken people, Sgt. John Colla of the SFPD central police district said. Twenty years ago before they started officially closing the streets, drunken people would regularly wander into traffic, endangering both themselves and drivers, he said.
Police will also be present, as requested by management, at various other bars in the area around North Beach and the Financial district that draw in huge crowds.
Last year about 1,000 people attended the North Beach and Financial district St. Patrick’s Day street festivities, but because of the beautiful warm weather today police expect a turn out of 2,000 to 3,000 people. “The heat really brings them out. We don’t like nice weather when we’re in charge of alcohol drinking people,” Colla said.
According to Colla who oversees security for events in these areas of town, the most frequent crime they take people to the station for is being drunk in public. People who are lying in curbs, throwing up all over themselves or too emotionally distraught to function will be taken to the County Jail and thrown in the drunk tank — for their own protection. After about four hours or when able to care of themselves, people are released without being charged for a crime.
“We look at it as playing Daddy for the evening because some people are not able to take care of themselves. They are too drunk, violent or childish,” Colla said.
Violence is not typically a problem at the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Colla said that events that serve food and drink are usually easy to handle, especially with street closures and police present.
Sometimes little scuffs break out in which people push one another around a bit, but they are usually alcohol induced and not very serious, SFPD Officer Scott Gaines said. Police will take fighters to the station if it seems to be in the best interest of the public. Those people also will be released after sobering up through what the district attorney calls being dismissed in the interest of justice, Gaines said.
“Cooler heads prevail,” Gaines said.
In the event that the crowds get out of control Police sergeants can call for back up. The TAC squad, which Colla said is like a SWAT team, is available as needed and can act as additional police support.
The SFPD is also responsible for providing homeland security. Gains said the United States is currently on yellow alert and the CIA and the FBI constantly notify the police officers of any changes in national security status.
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