H.B. prepares to keep the peace on July 4

Huntington Beach police will have a variety of new tools at the ready, including horses and extra eyes, as they patrol the city during the upcoming Fourth of July weekend.

The department is planning to deploy mounted officers and bicycle patrols and add more cameras in the downtown area, Chief Robert Handy said.

All 208 officers in the department will be on duty on the Fourth of July.

"We're going to have a heavier presence all over, so on the Fourth itself, everybody in the Police Department's working," he said. "We'll also bring in resources from the [Orange County] Sheriff's Department and the [California] Highway Patrol. So we're going to have a ton more presence everywhere in the city, not just downtown."

Though police staffing is still recovering from the recession — the department is four people short — Handy said he is finding new ways to increase enforcement.

One or two mounted police units, hired through the Orange County Regional Mounted Enforcement Unit, will patrol on July 4. The number of officers on horses depends on availability. The department plans to have four units go out July 5, in case the celebrating continues into the weekend.

Councilman Dave Sullivan said he has seen officers on horseback in action in Santa Monica and Boston and called them "extremely effective."

"You have to be pretty big to tangle with a horse when he wants to move you out of the way," he said.

To assist the officers on horse, bike and foot, Handy said the department is looking to finish installing 10 more cameras in the downtown area before the Fourth, which would give police 17 cameras — manned in real time.

"A lot of times they're just recording and we go back and review for incidents, but during the holiday weekend, we're going to have somebody monitoring those cameras," Handy said. "They'll be monitoring for activities that we need to dispatch officers to."

The Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 changed the way law enforcement agencies have approached crowd safety.

Handy said he will have several bomb-sniffing dogs from the Sheriff's Department to sweep the downtown area during the Fourth of July parade festivities.

For the first time in two years, all fireworks, including state-approved "safe and sane" devices, will be illegal. Throughout the city, police will cite people who use fireworks.

Fireworks suppression teams, consisting of police officers and fire marshals, will look for violations beginning July 3 or possibly earlier, Handy said.

The police chief said he is prepared for the inundation of calls and realizes that fireworks will be in the city regardless of the ban.

"It's really just doing what we can to put a lid on it," Handy said. "Part of what we're trying to do is educating the public that they're illegal and hope that most people will have a desire to be law-abiding and respect the law of Huntington Beach."


Huntington Beach Fourth of July schedule


Pancake breakfast in Lake Park: 6 to 11 a.m.

Surf City 5k Run and Fitness Expo at Eighth Street and Pacific Coast Highway: 7 a.m. to noon

Parade along Main Street: 10 a.m.

Pier Plaza Festival: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Fireworks over the ocean: 9 p.m.


Pier Plaza Festival: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Pier Plaza Festival: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information and a map of the 5K run and Main Street parade route, visit http://www.HB4thofJuly.org.

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