More cops to patrol Castro on Halloween

Scores of paddy wagons will fill the Castro on Wednesday night to imprison costumed party-goers arrested for drinking in public and to ferry them to the county jail.

Police spokesman Sgt. Neville Gittens on Monday wouldn’t say how many officers will be sent to the Castro on Wednesday night, but he said it will be more than the 500 deployed last Halloween, when nine people were shot. The shootings led The City to try to cancel the party, which yearly draws tens of thousands of people from around the Bay Area.

“There will be zero tolerance for any type of criminal activity,” Gittens said, “including drinking or being intoxicated in public.”

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will be among the agencies supporting the crackdown.

“We’ll be staffing 12 to 14 vans,” Sheriff Mike Hennessey said, “which will be available to remove arrestees from the area and take them down to the jail.”

Extra jail staff will work Wednesday night, according to Hennessey, and 120 sheriff deputies are expected to patrol the streets around the Castro.

The booze ban will leave few drinking options for Castro revelers, with 13 bars and clubs agreeing to close early on Wednesday, according to information provided by public relations consultant David Perry, who was hired to dissuade people from partying in the Castro.

“The hope is that the streets will stay open and the traffic will flow normally,” Perry said.

But public transit won’t flow normally — the BART station at Mission and 16th streets will be closed at 8 p.m., and Muni’s Church, Castro, Forest Hill and West Portal stations will shut 30 minutes later, to help keep people away from the area. Buses could be disrupted later that night if unsanctioned gaiety breaks out despite the ban, Muni warned.

BART will also beef up its police patrols Wednesday night. “Our first priority is to protect the BART passengers,” spokesman Linton Johnson said, “and then if we’re needed elsewhere, we’ll help out.”

jupton@examiner.com

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