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Police Prepare for Long Weekend

August 31, 1990|BLAKE FONTENAY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

San Diegans who love a good party will probably be out in force this weekend, armed with picnic baskets, coolers, boom boxes and plans for big Labor Day celebrations. Local law enforcement officials say they'll be ready for them.

While most of the city has been savoring the prospect of a three-day weekend, law enforcement officers have been gearing up for one of the more hectic stretches of their working year.

Police Sgt. Rick O'Hanlon estimated that 200,000 people will flock to city beaches on Monday. To meet that onslaught, the department's Northern Beach Team will deploy about 70 police personnel, including 40 to 50 uniformed officers just to handle potential problems in the Mission Bay and La Jolla Shores areas, O'Hanlon said.

That's about triple the number of police that usually patrol the area, he said.

"You have your drunks, fights that break out and large parties that you have to deal with," O'Hanlon said. Also, the Beach Team will close the parking lot at Sunset Point and use that area as a command post for its officers, he said.

The loss of those parking spaces might dismay some late-arriving beach-goers. O'Hanlon said police towed about 85 cars on the Fourth of July, and they may equal that record Monday.

"The main thing I would tell people is to come early," O'Hanlon said. "If you're not here by 10 o'clock, you're not going to get a space. And, if you're parked illegally, you're going to be towed."

This weekend will be what California Highway Patrol officers call a "maximum enforcement period," said CHP spokesman Jim Anderson.

That means that about 70% of the CHP's available work force will be on duty, contrasted with about 50% on an ordinary weekend, Anderson said.

A local cellular phone company is also urging its customers to tip off CHP officers to drunken motorists this weekend, Anderson said.

US West Cellular issued a release encouraging customers to use their car phones to dial 911 and report people driving erratically, Anderson said.

"It increases the number of eyes that we'll have on the roadways, looking for erratic drivers," Anderson said. "We'll get some calls from them (car phone owners) this weekend, I'm sure."

Like O'Hanlon, airport officials expect to be keeping tow truck operators busy this weekend.

Labor Day is typically the third-busiest holiday at Lindbergh Field, ranking behind only Christmas and Thanksgiving, said Gerald Reas, the airport's director of land operations.

The airport's parking lots will probably be filled throughout the weekend, Reas said.

O'Hanlon predicted that only one thing can stop the hordes from advancing to beaches this weekend: cloudy or rainy weather.

But Dan Atkin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said police shouldn't expect too much help from Mother Nature.

The advance forecast for the weekend calls for sunny skies, with highs in the low 70s at the beaches, Atkin said.

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