Hermosa Beach is spending ample time and money this Fourth of July to warn people that what happened last year won’t happen again.
In recent years, police have seen an increase in the number of emergency calls, many regarding fights and underage drinking. So this year the city has decided to triple fines and the number of law enforcement officers.
“Last year we seemed to get to a very scary place,” said Mayor Kit Bobko. “We have, over the last few years, been on a trajectory like that and we needed to put an end to that cycle.”
Police will have 100 officers on hand, including 50 Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies — both in plain-clothes and in uniform. Fines for drinking in public will remain inflated throughout the weekend.
In an effort to warn the public about the change in atmosphere, the city has mailed flyers to homeowners and sent videos to local schools describing the repercussions minors face when they are caught drinking.
“The most stringent penalty for them probably is that they will lose their license or they won’t be able to get one if they have an alcohol conviction on their record,” he said.
A bus and a 35-foot command vehicle will also allow officers to respond to large crowds.
“We will have a paddy wagon parked at the part of the beach where we had the most problems (last year), and if a kid gets arrested and put on the jail bus, he or she will be held there until mom or dad come bail them out,” Bobko said.
Bobko said it may not be possible to quantify the cost of damages and responding to calls last year. Additional officers this year cost the city about $40,000 and videos and flyers cost about $6,000.
“That cost is insignificant to the problems that we experience if we were to not have them,” Bobko said. “It’s a situation where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”