Party patrol

Officers arrest 215 during Spring Break


Port Aransas police restrain two Spring Breakers who had been involved in a scuffle on the beach on Friday, March 16. One area of the beach attracted a concentration of Spring Breakers and tended to be the area where trouble broke out during the week. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

Port Aransas police restrain two Spring Breakers who had been involved in a scuffle on the beach on Friday, March 16. One area of the beach attracted a concentration of Spring Breakers and tended to be the area where trouble broke out during the week. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

Spring Break 2018 went as expected for the Port Aransas Police Department – parties to the south, families to the north.

Heavy Spring Break traffic rolls along the beach near Pole 35 in Port Aransas on Friday, March 16. While the southern end of the city’s beaches were densely populated by partiers, more northern beaches in Port Aransas weren’t so crowded and were occupied largely by families. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

Heavy Spring Break traffic rolls along the beach near Pole 35 in Port Aransas on Friday, March 16. While the southern end of the city’s beaches were densely populated by partiers, more northern beaches in Port Aransas weren’t so crowded and were occupied largely by families. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

During “Texas Week,” Saturday, March 10, to Sunday, March 18, the PAPD, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Nueces County Precinct 4 Constable’s office deputies made 215 total arrests, said Police Chief Scott Burroughs. Last year, during the same week, 235 arrests were made.

Port Aransas police handcuff a person suspected of underage drinking on the beach on Wednesday, March 14, during Spring Break. Officers also confiscated a knife from him. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

Port Aransas police handcuff a person suspected of underage drinking on the beach on Wednesday, March 14, during Spring Break. Officers also confiscated a knife from him. Staff photo by Zach Perkins

“It went exactly how we thought it would go,” Burroughs said.

Despite limited lodging options in Port Aransas, many Spring Breakers camped out on the beach, stayed in Corpus Christi or made the trip for the day, Burroughs said.

Nearly all of the Spring Break disturbances occurred in one half-mile stretch, from Mile Marker 32 to Mile Marker 36 on the beach, he said.

PAPD responded to two major incidents. On Saturday, March 10, a cyclist was hit by a motorist on Alister Street. She suffered a concussion, but was expected to make a full recovery, according to police. (See full story in the March 15 issue of the South Jetty.) A 22-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle on State Highway 361 in the early-morning hours of Saturday, March 17. (See full story in this issue.)

Nearly one-third of the arrests made during Spring Break were for driving while intoxicated, Burroughs said.

“I would say 90 to 100 percent of arrests during Spring Break involve alcohol or drugs in some factor,” he said.

Port Aransas EMS responded to several alcohol poisoning calls, and a couple of drug overdoses, Burroughs said.

There were no shootings or stabbings during Spring Break this year. Five sexual assaults were reported. All are being investigated by PAPD, he said.

A South Jetty reporter went on beach patrol for several hours on Friday, March 16. Here’s his report:

4:07 p.m.

Officer Joey Rivas of the Port Aransas Police Department patrolled the beach. It was his fourth Spring Break as a PAPD officer.

“Each year, the party keeps moving further and further south on the beach,” he said.

4:21 p.m.

Rivas drove north in his Ford F-150 police cruiser as an EMS call came through the radio.

“Port Aransas EMS, Port Aransas EMS, we need an ambulance at Mile Maker 27, for a girl who is having seizures,” a dispatcher said. TPWD officers had the woman lying in the bed of a state police truck. Her friends crowded around her. It appeared that alcohol was the cause of the seizures.

4:31 p.m.

A girl waved down Rivas from her Jeep and asked, “What Mile Marker is this?”

“Twenty-six,” Rivas said. The marker was in front of her vehicle, to the right.

4:37 p.m.

An older gentleman driving a pickup truck waved his cup out of the window to show the police officer he was drinking a Whataburger soft drink.

4:42 p.m.

Rivas reversed his cruiser into a parking space at Mile Marker 35. Time to approach what Spring Breakers called, “The Lit Pit,” where a large gathering of partygoers created a circle with large 4 X 4 trucks and speakers large enough for one to think the Rolling Stones were about to play a concert.

4:46 p.m.

Burroughs stood near the crowd with a number of other law enforcement officers and expressed how surprisingly well-behaved crowd had been.

4:59 p.m.

Sgt. Mike Hannon, a PAPD detective, took a walk through the crowd. One Spring Breaker offered him a beer. He declined.

5:12 p.m.

A woman in a sailor hat and red bathing suit asked if she could take a photo with PAPD Officer Jason Atwater. Department policy doesn’t allow officers to pose in photos, but they can stand in the background.

5:29 p.m.

A scuffle broke out, and beer flew from Spring Breakers atop pickup trucks. Officers approached from all angles of the circle inside of the larger circle, where PAPD was able to break up the fight within seconds.

5:30 p.m.

The theme song to the television show Cops played on the loud speaker.

5:37 p.m.

A woman offered PAPD Detective Amy Jamison some beads. She declined.

5:46 p.m.

Atwater and Kelly Henson, another PAPD officer, pulled a man from the back of a truck for smoking a marijuana cigarette.

“It’s only one gram,” the Spring Breaker said. He was taken to a holding cell at PAPD.

5:59 p.m.

A mother told her high school-aged Spring Breaker son it was time to leave the party, but he wasn’t ready to leave. They both disappeared into the pit.

6:01 p.m.

Officers decided the crowd was behaving well enough to not enforce the alcohol ban.

6:17 p.m.

PAPD Officer Brandon Riedel asked a Spring Breaker drinking on the beach for some identification. She pulled her license out of a fanny pack she was wearing. She was old enough to consume alcohol. Riedel thanked the woman for having her license on hand.

6:20 p.m.

A girl who had a bruised eye after being hit in the face by a flying beer can was crying outside of the large party area. Gena Oestreich, a PAPD officer, got her an ice pack, despite the girl not wanting one.

6:22 p.m.

DPS trooper Marco Everett spotted two girls who were about to exchange punches. He ran into the crowd, and he grabbed each by an arm and escorted them out of the circle.

6:30 p.m.

TPWD officers pulled a man and a girl out of the circle, along with two bottles of tequila. The girl cried and yelled, “I don’t want to go to jail.” She was 15 years old. The man, a 25-year-old, was arrested and taken to jail. Police called the girl’s mother to pick her up.

6:45 p.m.

Officers backed off the crowd and waited for orders to enforce the alcohol ban.

7:12 p.m.

Riedel received the orders from his superior to break up the crowd. Officers approached the circle, and told the disc jockey to turn off the music.

7:15 p.m.

A Spring Breaker got on the microphone and said, “For some reason, the cops are shutting us down, but I have something for you.”

The young man played a song by the rap group N.W.A., which criticized police. The officers then noticed many of the trucks in the circle didn’t have parking permits, so they started writing tickets for violating the city’s parking laws.

7:40 p.m.

Rivas returned to his cruiser and headed north on the beach.

8:13 p.m.

A woman approached Rivas, asking if she could purchase a beach parking permit. Rivas said the place that sells permits on the beach is closed for the night, and that she had to go to the Family Center IGA or to a Stripes store to get one.

She turned around, stared at her boyfriend, and told him, “I told you so.”

As dusk approached, the sky over the beach was filled with a glow from the flashing of red and blue police lights.

8:40 p.m.

A call came in on the radio for backup at Mile Marker 38 for a large, rowdy crowd. Officers from PAPD walked through the party, while others blocked motorist from driving near the water.

“Chris, light ‘em up,” said one officer over the radio. He was telling Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Chief Chris Shanklin to block the road from traffic going south on the beach with the lights on top of his truck. Officers funneled traffic north in an attempt to stop the crowds from forming large parties.

For about an hour, Rivas assisted directing traffic out of the area.

9:49 p.m.

A man whom Rivas knew from previous run-ins came up to the officer and said, “I got wasted and woke up way down the beach in a random car, and I went into the porta potty and figured out all my stuff was gone.”

He walked away.

“Man!” he said.

10:10 p.m.

While officers attempted to break up another crowd of Spring Breakers, one man tried to grab a couple of fishing poles that belonged to a man and his son. Todd Thomasson, a PAPD officer, noticed it and arrested the man. The man and his son, who owned the fishing rods, decided not to press charges, but the man was taken to jail for public intoxication.

10:27 p.m.

Rivas drove north down the beach to Beach Access Road 1, where he headed out to State Highway 361. It was the end of the 12-hour shift for Rivas, and just two more days of Spring Break remained.

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