Oceanfront crowd larger than police expected Saturday

Virginia Beach, Va. – Crowds of 30 – 40,000 people filled the oceanfront Saturday.

It was a lot more people than police had anticipated and there were a lot of problems to deal with.

148 people were arrested over the weekend, and there were several shootings, stabbings and fights.

So how exactly do police know what to plan for and why were the crowds so much bigger than expected?

Here’s what typically happens.

According to police, they call the Hotel-Motel Association to get information about occupancy rates in the days leading up to a holiday weekend or major event.

The Hotel-Motel Association tells NewsChannel 3 it works the other way around as well.  If they realize a lot of hotels are selling out, they’ll notify police.

This past weekend, Councilman John Uhrin, who represents the beach district, said police did check  after hearing word of an event called “College Beach Weekend.”

Uhrin said that’s why they knew hotels were selling out and planned to have more officers on patrol.

But he says there was no way to know the crowds would reach the size they did because there’s no way that many people were staying in the hotels.

Police say the event grew through social media, and drew people to the beach who had no affiliation with area universities.

“There were two separate crowds, I will say, there were the college kids who by and large were having a good time, they’re young so maybe they’re a little bit rowdy and doing what young folks do at the oceanfront, then we had a criminal element,” said Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera.

It’s a problem that Uhrin says the city needs to find a way to deal with, so that they can better manage crowd size in the future.

Related:

Hundreds of 911 calls made Saturday from the Oceanfront

Virginia Beach Police release statistics on weekend arrests, charges at the Oceanfront

Four charged with assault at the Oceanfront

Chaotic Saturday night at the Oceanfront; 3 shootings, 3 stabbings, and 3 robberies