Police plan videotape of drunks | Hope to document beach booze woes

May 23, 1991 No Comments

Ruth L. McKinnie. San Diego Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: May 23, 1991. pg. B.1

Video cameras will be out in force at San Diego beaches this Memorial Day weekend, but they won’t all be capturing family picnics or children playing in the waves.

Some will be used to tape drunks.

Members of a City Council committee hope the videos, to be taken by police officers, will bolster their contention that public drunkenness and related problems are serious enough to warrant some form of alcohol ban, possibly by this summer.

Councilman Bruce Henderson, who asked that police video cameras be used at the beaches this weekend and in the coming months, said the footage will go a long way toward underscoring the severity of the problem.

“As the debate heats up and the citizens of the city want to know why we want to ban alcohol at the beaches, we’ll have a record (of the problem) over the months,” Henderson said.

The council earlier this month rescinded a one-year booze ban in the face of a petition drive financed by the liquor industry. Council members had the choice of dropping the ban or ordering a special election at a cost of about $450,000.

The five members of the council’s Public Facilities and Recreation Committee yesterday forwarded to the full council a recommendation that it place a measure on the general election ballot in June 1992.

The committee also unanimously directed that suggestions for an emergency ban go to the council next month so that temporary alcohol prohibitions could be enforced this summer. The council will take up the proposals, which are not yet in final form, during its June 17 meeting.

Committee members discussed the possibility of banning alcohol consumption during certain hours or at beaches identified as trouble spots.

The council can approve an immediate ban only if it can be proved that an emergency exists, according to Deputy City Attorney Hal Valderhaug.

Councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer, who represents La Jolla, said there’s no question that growing complaints of rowdiness and public drunkenness at some beaches warrant immediate sanctions.

“This is definitely an emergency,” Wolfsheimer said.

In a related development, local law enforcement officials are getting several new video cameras donated through a program called “Eye on DUI,” sponsored by a national insurance company.

San Diego police officers and sheriff’s deputies will use the cameras to videotape motorists suspected of being under the influence of alcohol at the time they are stopped, said Dan Greenblat, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman.

The cameras are mounted in police cars and used to record a motorist’s actions before the person is taken to jail. Law enforcement officials planned an equipment demonstration at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium this morning.

Today’s donations are the first in California by AETNA Insurance Co., Greenblat said. The insurance company has donated video equipment in 152 police jurisdictions nationwide. Staff writers Tim Archuleta and Rick Shaughnessy contributed to this report.

Credit: Tribune Staff Writer

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