Police busy, but not overwhelmed

It wasn’t a quiet event for police, but the five days of the Sturgis North Motorcycle Rally and Music Festival were calmer than anticipated.

Presence: Members of the RCMP’s Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Unit made frequent patrols throughout both venues.

It wasn’t a quiet event for police, but the five days of the Sturgis North Motorcycle Rally and Music Festival were calmer than anticipated.

“Being the first year, we didn’t really know what to expect, but certainly some of what we planned for didn’t materialize,” said Staff. Sgt. Kevin Keane, head of the Salmon Arm detachment.

Police and security had more calls than normal, but Keane says most of the incidents were minor in nature, primarily alcohol-fueled disturbances. There were no serious traffic accidents or any major violence. One RCMP constable had her shoulder dislocated as she arrested an intoxicated man on Sunday night.

From Wednesday to Sunday, 43 people were arrested and held in cells overnight, the majority for causing disturbances, public intoxication and assault. Police issued 24 administrative driving prohibitions for suspected impaired and 145 violations tickets for motor vehicle infractions. There were 16 drug seizures, two motorbikes impounded for stunting and two for street racing. One woman wearing only a hat, socks and a g-string was spoken to by police for public nudity, but was not arrested.

“No one got really hurt and no one died,” said Keane. “That’s got me breathing easier.”

Keane said police road checks were abundant, which sent a clear message that drinking and driving would not be tolerated.

“The shuttles were full and that’s what we wanted to see.”

The police presence was significant, bringing in officers from the Sourtheast District Traffic Unit traffic unit, reservists, First Nations policing, air support,  and members of the RCMP’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit including the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Unit.

Four chapters of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club attended the Sturgis North event, the most visible being the White Rock chapter, which had a vending booth set up. Keane says the Hells Angels members did not cause trouble.

“We had a very visible presence with the gang unit and they kept it low key.”

A planned ride from the Kelowna Hells Angels chapter to Sturgis on Saturday did not materialize when a storm hit the region.

Keane says the weather may not have been what Sturgis organizers wanted but it helped police efforts by keeping crowds contained and numbers low.

“There was 2,750 capacity beer gardens at the fairgrounds and obviously that didn’t materialize, it was like Siberia over there much of the time.”

Keane says there have been some complaints about the safety of stunt motorcycle riding events which took place downtown, as the bikes were often inches from the crowds lining the streets.

“That’s something we’ll be looking at if it’s back next year as well as how we can do a better job with traffic control. It being the first one, we’ll have a better idea of what we will need for police resources now.”


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