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Fourth of July brings arrests in beach towns, as usual

Number of arrests was flat in Newport Beach, higher than in past years in Hermosa Beach and mostly alcohol-related — but violence was kept at bay, authorities say.

July 05, 2013|By Ari Bloomekatz

It has become a recurring theme along parts of Southern California's coast: For some revelers, the Fourth of July doesn't mean celebrating freedom but dealing with shackles and a night behind bars.

Among the throngs of party-seekers who descended on beach towns for the holiday, more than 150 in Newport Beach and Hermosa Beach were arrested during Fourth of July festivities, police said Friday.

Of those, at least 123 were arrested in Newport Beach through 5:30 a.m. Friday. "As you can imagine, most of" the arrests are "alcohol-related," said Sgt. Todd Hughes of the Newport Beach Police Department.

Newport Beach saw 119 arrests on each of the two previous Fourth of July holidays, and Hughes said this year was "almost exactly the same."

But in Hermosa Beach, the 31 arrests and 114 citations tallied were among the most that Sgt. Landon Phillips could remember in recent years.

One of the 31 arrests was for drug possession, one was for robbery and "all the rest were for alcohol-related, public intoxication or" driving under the influence, Phillips said. Most of the citations were for possession of alcohol or having an open container in public, he said.

"As far as arrests go, that is the highest number that I can recall for recent years," Phillips said.

"There was heavy enforcement, but all in all, it was kept safe," he said of the festivities, adding that there were fewer fights and fewer injuries than in past years.

Police departments in coastal cities have struggled for years with the sheer number of Fourth of July revelers and the occasional havoc they cause.

Hermosa Beach, trying to stave off its annual bout of chaos, had announced that it was cracking down on public intoxication and other offenses for the entire week and tripling fines as well.

The city also put about 100 law enforcement personnel on the street over the holiday, including Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and undercover officers, among other measures.

Phillips thinks the results are clear.

Although there were a lot of arrests and citations, "the ramped-up enforcement helped minimize the violence," he said.

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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