Ride-along with SLOPD finds Halloween fairly calm but messy

Many are costumed and drinking, but few are so inebriated they fall down and vomit

jhickey@thetribunenews.comNovember 2, 2013 

The rapper Eminem — or at least a 20-year-old likeness — has fallen and he can’t get up.

San Luis Obispo police Sgt. John Villanti finds him face-down drunk in the bushes at the corner of Santa Rosa Street and Foothill Boulevard in San Luis Obispo on Halloween night, with three Cal Poly students keeping watch.

“He’s pickled,” says Villanti, who is just two hours into his 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, allowing a Tribune reporter to ride along and watch the evening unfold. He arranges for the man to be cited for public intoxication and taken to a detoxification cell at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Although one of the students looking out for the inebriated 20-year-old said he doesn’t drink, a cruise into downtown San Luis Obispo indicates sobriety is the vast exception — with hordes of drunken Jazzercise divas, queens of hearts and sexy witches tottering on high heels beside men in tights, cardboard robots, and Bert and Ernie bumping shoulders while lining up at the bars.

Driving a police vehicle, a fair share of heckling comes one’s way.

But Villanti is in good spirits, greeting the waves and jokes with a hearty, “Happy Halloween.”

“I wish you patience!” one man yells at Villanti.

Around 11 p.m., Villanti parks at a busy intersection to survey the scene.

Emerging from the swarm of costumes, a drunken transient with a mustache and a crucifix necklace approaches Villanti’s parked vehicle and peers in the driver’s side.

“Wesley, what’s going on?” Villanti says bluntly.

“You tell me,” slurs Wesley Laguna, a man who, Villanti later points out with the search of the police database, has had 1,251 contacts with local police.

“You smell bad, you look terrible, and you’ve probably been drinking,” Villanti says.

Another officer on foot tells Laguna to get back on the sidewalk, and the man’s mop of gray hair disappears into the crowd.

There’s a call on the scanner that a red Power Ranger knocked someone to the curb, and the victim hit his head on the concrete; a nearby resident is upset about the bass thumping from Marston’s Bar & Grill; and a visitor from Ohio is upset that a local bouncer bent his valid ID card in half.

The neighborhoods around Cal Poly, which had been roaring at 10:30 p.m., feel rather empty by midnight, with crushed pumpkins in the street as the only evidence of Halloween mayhem.

About 1 a.m. back downtown in the alley behind MoTav, a thin young woman with a bikini printed on her plus-size shirt is plopped beside a puddle of her own vomit. Although clearly suffering, she seems alert and aware of her surroundings, and police send her home with friends.

Standing beside her is police Capt. Chris Staley: “For as many people as are out, the evening seems to be getting along fine,” he says.

By 3 a.m., there was one DUI arrest, eight arrests for public intoxication, 10 warnings and one citation for noise complaints on the north end of town near Cal Poly, and someone threw a pumpkin through a car window — a relatively calm Halloween, according to Capt. Keith Storton.

“The night went well,” Villanti said. “Everybody behaved.”

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