PB Group Upset Over Canceled DUI Checkpoint

Fourth Of July Checkpoint In Pacific Beach Canceled This Year

A Pacific Beach community group said the way drunken behavior is handled in their community needs to change amid a recent decision by the San Diego Police Department.

San Diego has the most DUI-related arrests in any city in the country. Most of those arrests happen in Pacific Beach.

For the last eight years, a DUI checkpoint has been staged in Pacific Beach during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This year, there was none.

Members of the PB Planning Committee want to know why.

Planning committee member Scott Chipman told 10News when residents learned the checkpoint would not be held, they were surprised. With scenes of drunken fights outside bars and many DUI arrests, it is easy to see why the group's members are disappointed.

10News has obtained a recording that reveals some light about who canceled the checkpoint.

The recording is from a meeting last week between planning committee members and San Diego police Officer Mark McCullough.

Resident: Who told you not to come to Pacific Beach? McCullough: That came to my captain through the chief's office. We were asked to kind of spread the wealth around.Resident: The chief of police…McCullough: Yes ma'am.Resident: … suggested we didn't need it on the Fourth of July.McCullough: Yes ma'am. (laughter)

A source told 10News that someone in San Diego civic leadership put pressure on the police department to cancel the DUI checkpoint because of the negative publicity it generated for restaurants and bars in Pacific Beach. But Chipman said canceling the checkpoint was a bad idea, not just because it gets drunken drivers off the streets.

"Year over year, enforcement needs to be maintained in order to understand whether DUI incidents are going up or down," he said.

The city claims they simply changed tactics and decided to use saturation patrols instead of checkpoints. The police department issued this statement to 10News:

"While the San Diego Police Department understands that there are concerns about alcohol use and potential abuse in the Pacific and Mission Beach areas, the Department also has a responsibility to provide patrols, protection and conduct enforcement in all areas of the City that we serve. As stated, we need to spread the wealth of our service.

During the July 4th holiday weekend, the San Diego Police Department had extra staffing assigned to the beach areas to deal with the crowds, including taking action on alcohol-related violations. This extra staffing included extra motor officers, harbor patrol officers and extra officers to work with the beach enforcement team. We activated extra command posts (Reed Street, Belmont Park, Fiesta Island, Fanuel Park, Crown Point, Ski Beach) to provide more immediate response and presence to those enjoying the beach throughout the holiday weekend. In addition, we did conduct saturation patrols directed at DUI enforcement in the beach areas.

Since the beach alcohol ban went into effect in 2008, alcohol-related crime in the Pacific Beach area has declined by 21 percent and by 34 percent in the Mission Beach area. During the same time, we have seen alcohol-related crime become more of an issue in other neighborhoods. We have a responsibility to provide police services throughout the City."

Residents said they want those checkpoints back and they want businesses that sell alcohol in Pacific Beach to be more responsible about how they conduct their business.

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