Police toughen stance on alcohol at free concerts
No one likes to pay $75 for a beer.But after a chaotic New Year’s Eve, Aspen police plan to crack down on open liquor containers and underage drinkers during the X Games concerts this weekend.An open-container ticket could be as high as $75, while those younger than 18 who are caught with booze will be detained until they can be released to a parent or responsible party. Intoxicated people between 18 and 21 could face fines as well as, like juveniles, other ramifications related to driving privileges, said Assistant Police Chief Glenn Schaffer.The venue at Wagner Park will be fenced in, also a change from last year, and concertgoers will enter the grounds through checkpoints to allow police and security to check backpacks for liquor.The setup will be similar to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass shows last summer, Schaffer said. The only alcohol sales at the concerts will be in a VIP section, like last year.”And [people] are not allowed to leave the VIP tent” with alcohol, he said.After last year’s concerts, city cleanup crews had “a terrible, terrible experience” with broken glass, Schaffer said. They spent much of the spring picking up glass shards from the park, including an all-day effort in April that involved the Parks Department and about 50 people from City Hall and the Aspen Skiing Co.The X Games concerts in 2005 resembled the New Year’s Eve celebration earlier this month.At the latter scene, “There were a lot of open containers and there were a lot of underage kids that had alcohol,” he said. “And just because of how busy we were, we couldn’t pay the attention we should have to that.”Attendance is expected to be similar to last year, when up to 10,000 people attended the Roots’ show Saturday night. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley is headlining the Saturday show this year.”We have difficulty controlling that many people,” Schaffer said. “Luckily, even with the bands that were there, we didn’t have very many problems. The crowd was pretty well-behaved considering the size of it.”All the problems we do seem to have are alcohol-related.”Police will also enforce a curfew for anyone under 18 without a parent after 11 p.m. The concerts end at 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Schaffer acknowledged the conflict but said leniency will play a role.”If kids are there at the concerts until 11:30 and then are making an effort to go straight home at that point, we won’t get all worked up about it,” he said.This year, nearly 20 officers and deputies from the Aspen and Snowmass departments and the sheriff’s office will be on hand during the music. Police again will be running a detox center near the concerts.There will also be between 25 and 50 private security guards at the shows.”We want people to have a good time, but we also want it to be a safe time for everybody, as well,” Schaffer said.Enforcement at a glanceAspen police are hoping to avoid the disorder they saw during New Year’s Eve. During that night, police recorded: Six people treated at a detox site, three of whom were under 21 Two ambulance calls related to alcohol intoxication – “People just unconscious,” said Assistant Police Chief Glenn Schaffer Three fightsSchaffer estimated that for “every one of these incidents that we dealt with, there were three that we had to overlook”And those were just the people documented in arrest reports or similar paperwork.”The number of [police] contacts I’d never be able to tell you,” Schaffer said. “They were astounding numbers.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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