More arrests recorded at this year’s Winter X Games
The Aspen Times
Winter X GaMES ARRESTS
Source: Pitkin County Incident Management Team
Twenty-three arrests were connected with this year’s Winter X Games, a 130 percent increase compared with 10 arrests during the event in 2014, public-safety officials reported Sunday.
A breakdown of the arrests was not available. Blair Weyer, spokeswoman for the multi-agency Pitkin County Incident Management Team that monitored X Games crowds inside and outside the Buttermilk Ski Area event site, said some of the arrests involved people suspected of felony drug possession.
“None of the felony arrests were crimes of violence,” Weyer said.
There were two other glaring statistics from this year’s breakdown of calls for law enforcement or emergency medical services related to the event.
One was the number of minors, 108, who were issued summonses on suspicion of possessing alcohol or drugs — a 96 percent increase compared with 2014’s figure of 55 minors. Of the 108 minor-in-possession citations, three involved marijuana, according to the preliminary data supplied by Weyer.
The reason for the uptick can be attributed to the increase in the presence of state Department of Revenue agents, according to Weyer. Last year, the department had four agents working the event and issuing citations to minors possessing and consuming alcohol. For this year’s X Games, the department sent seven officers.
Another category that stands out relates to the number of calls related to actual or possible overconsumption of alcohol, which rose 80 percent from 117 in 2014 to 211 this year, the breakdown shows. Aside from alcoholic beverages that were sold inside the X Games concert venue during shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the event is designed to be alcohol-free.
Two detox units were set up during the four days of the X Games, one at Buttermilk and another in Aspen. The Buttermilk unit saw far less action than the one in town, Weyer said.
“Our medical officer said they only had one true medical detox hold at the venue this weekend,” Weyer said. “They evaluated a lot of people, most of whom were released to a sober party. The same was not true for the acute intoxication unit in town, which was much busier.”
She said numerous minors were brought to the detox centers and were handled by school resource officers. Typically, the officers attempt to get a parent or guardian to pick up the minor, Weyer said.
Total attendance for the four-day event at Buttermilk was 115,000, a Winter X Games record, according to ESPN, which produces the annual event. Attendance was estimated at 16,000 Thursday, 23,000 Friday, 48,000 Saturday and 28,000 Sunday.
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said he was pleased with the preliminary data given the larger crowds, which were partly attributed to the concert venue being moved from downtown Aspen to Buttermilk for the first time.
“We had more people at the venue, for a longer amount of time, than we ever have,” DiSalvo said. “We used to lose them for a couple of hours where they would go into town and see a concert there and possibly get contacted for alcohol. From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., we had them all at one venue all the time. So, I would guess that’s the correlation to the (alcohol-related) increases.”
Public-safety management got off to an unusual start Thursday with a report that a 20-year-old was issued a misdemeanor summons on suspicion of operating a drone near the X Games venue and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. But Weyer said the arrests that followed that incident were nothing out of the ordinary.
“From my perspective, (public safety at the X Games was) a huge success, and having the concerts out at the venue was something that should have been done a long time ago. That worked a lot easier for us in terms of shuffling people back and forth. The reconfiguration at the base of Buttermilk greatly improved the safety of the event and the way the crowd flowed. That was a totally new experience, and I think Aspen Skiing Co. knocked that one out of the park,” DiSalvo said.
The Winter X Games also are designed to be drug-free. Contacts by law enforcement related to marijuana possession or consumption also jumped significantly, from 38 last year to 199 this year. Weyer suggested that the rise had a lot to do with the presence of six recreational marijuana shops that are open for business in Aspen. Last year, there were no recreational cannabis dispensaries open during the Winter X Games.
The incident management team, under the direction of Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office Detective Brad Gibson, included personnel from the Sheriff’s Office, the Aspen, Basalt and Snowmass Village police departments, the Colorado State Patrol, the state Department of Revenue, the U.S. Marshal’s Office, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and other regional agencies.