Local News

Report: Picnic Day 2014 may have been safest in years

By From page A1 | May 13, 2014

A new city report compiling police, business and city statistics shows that Picnic Day 2014 may have been more safe than in recent years.

Fewer arrests than the previous two years is certainly welcome news, and police said a key law enforcement component to managing Picnic Day 2014 was the re-upping of a downtown area safety zone that allows stiffer fines for alcohol-related crimes.

However, one of the highlights was a jump in the number of businesses signing voluntary covenants agreeing to limit their alcohol sales and advertising. In fact, 2014 saw the most businesses participate in the program, at 75, with 60 percent of state alcohol license holders joining in, the report said.

“While it is difficult to provide a direct correlation, the covenant has been credited with keeping the overall atmosphere downtown and in other locations in the community manageable,” the report said. “At the very least, it provides a way in which the partners can talk to (alcohol) license holders to make sure they are preparing adequately for Picnic Day.”

The report was co-authored by Davis Police Chief Landy Black and Deputy City Manager Kelly Stachowicz. It indicates 2014 may be the most successful Picnic Day from a public safety perspective since 2010, when Picnic Day “…was marred by uncontrollable crowds and near riotous behavior in downtown Davis.”

The information means the efforts of the so-called Picnic Day partners consisting of the city, UC Davis, both police departments and businesses may be becoming more and more justified.

Picnic Day 2010 served as a wake-up call for the city, UC Davis and the community, the report said.

“Since that time, leaders in the community and on campus have been working to ensure Picnic Day meets its original purpose as the university’s primary open house and focuses on family and community friendly events.”

The report is part of an update going to the City Council tonight.

Police Lt. Ton Phan said Davis law enforcement did not change its approach from the way it handled Picnic Day in 2013, despite better results in 2014.

“We actually used the same game plans as last year,” Phan said. “Last year’s plans worked and we stuck with them.”

While arrests were down, police were working hard, he said.

“We were still busy with calls for service,” Phan said, adding that the police call it a good day when there are few serious crimes like violent assaults or rapes.

Participation in the partnership extended to the UC Davis Greek system as well, with 27 of the houses signing their own version of the covenant and organizing 300 volunteers to pick up 3,200 pounds of garbage from downtown and around campus after Picnic Day was over.

The report also cited the placement of porta-potties throughout downtown to address problems with public urination.

On the business side, Stuart Savage, executive director of the business organization Davis Downtown, said the effort to get the covenants signed seemed easier this year because more businesses were used to it.

“I personally go from business to business talking to business owners and bar owners,” he said, adding that police have their own bar owners meeting to address issues that might come up on Picnic Day.

“In the end, businesses profit (from a manageable Picnic Day) because  if they have a good event, there is no damage to restaurants and they know when to have adequate staff,” he said. “And they’re also working together, which is great.”

 — Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057.

Dave Ryan

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