The third weekend in July was again a busy time for the Oak Bluffs police department, which reported a busier-than-normal weekend in light of the shark tournament and festival. But while last year police said they felt overwhelmed, this year the department reported that an increased police presence may have deterred more serious incidents.
The department reported that between Thursday, July 18 and Sunday, July 21, police responded to 175 incidents, making 25 arrests and placing four people into protective custody.
During the same weekend last year, police made 21 arrests and responded to 140 incidents. Police chief Erik Blake said that the force was overwhelmed by the activity, with the harbor filled and a lot of alcohol-fueled incidents, including a large fight on Kennebec avenue.
This year, there was increased police presence and the town used the sheriff department’s transport vehicle. “I think that a beefed-up presence probably deterred some more crime and disorder,” Oak Bluffs Lieut. Timothy Williamson said. “We were highly visible and may have deterred some bad behavior.”
While last year there were several fights at bar closure time — including a large fight on Kennebec avenue that led to a foot chase down Circuit avenue — Lieutenant Williamson said there weren’t any fights at bar closure on Saturday night.
“We weren’t having a lot of tolerance for alcohol-related stuff,” he said. “You can come down here, you can have a good time and enjoy yourself and have some drinks, but we weren’t putting up with overdrinking.”
Five of the arrests over the weekend were for fake identifications after police decided on a zero-tolerance approach to underage drinking, he said. Six other arrests were for drinking in public, including five men arrested for drinking at Pay Beach. Lieutenant Williamson said those arrested had been warned already.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, a 44-year-old man was placed into protective custody after passing out on Kennebec avenue, the police report said, and a few minutes later a 25-year-old man was placed into protective custody after passing out on a porch.
Later Saturday night, police were called to the Portuguese-American club because a man was passed out in the woods. Early Sunday morning, a 49-year-old Quincy man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after police responded to a noise complaint on the harbor. The man allegedly refused to quiet down, and began making antagonistic comments towards police.
Perhaps the most violent incident, he said, was a 46-year-old man arrested outside of Nancy’s Restaurant who allegedly assaulted a bouncer at the restaurant and then got into a scuffle with police officers.
“I think it went well,” Lieutenant Williamson said. “I think it was a balanced approach.”