Cost of extra police on Halloween ‘a wash’

The Halloween nonevent in the Castro last week may have been a dud of a party, but at least an added presence didn’t cost the San Francisco Police Department any more than the previous year.

Speaking in front of the Police Commission on Wednesday night, Deputy Police Chief David Shinn said the costs of buckling down The City were “a wash” compared with 2006, when a scaled-down event raged all night with bloody consequences.

Shinn, who heads the Police Department field operations division, said despite an extra 200 officerson the streets, overtime costs were held to a minimum because most officers were able to go home around midnight, when the night wound down.

According to Shinn, there were no reports of assaults, stabbings or shootings in the entire city on Halloween night. The department also redeployed a number of officers to other parts of The City as problems arose.

Several members of the police commission were in the Castro on Halloween; they thanked officers for keeping The City safe.

Commission President Theresa Sparks said police didn’t really have much say in The City’s policy on Halloween and she thanked officers for following procedure.

“The officers I talked to seemed to be almost to the state of being bored, it was so quiet,” Sparks said. “And I think that was a good sign as I walked around.”

Critics say the “nonevent” resembled martial law and that many of the Castro’s gay-owned businesses were pressured into closing down on one of the most lucrative nights of the year. Sparks said she was also concerned about some issues and called for an investigation into whether bars and other businesses in the Castro were pressured by police to close their doors.

Ted Strawser, a founder of Citizens for Halloween, said some officers were rude to the hundreds of revelers who still showed up. He also complained that despite an earlier public meeting, surprises such as BART closures and an early Muni shutdown made it clear that public comment was not considered.

“I felt like all of our comments and all of our testimony one month before had gone nowhere,” Strawser said.

bbegin@examiner.com

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