Huntington Beach Beefs Up Security to Avoid Another Summer of Unrest

The city has installed 16 surveillance cameras to monitor this year's Van's U.S. Open of Surfing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Organizers said this year's U.S. Open of Surfing will have a more "cleaned up" feel, no music concerts, less focus on the chaotic festival area and a renewed spotlight on the surf, skate and BMX activity. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 21, 2014.

    As the stage is being set for this year's Van's U.S. Open of Surfing, the Huntington Beach Police Department is taking additional precautions in hopes of avoiding another summer of unrest in the seaside community.

    The city has eliminated the free concerts on the sand that accompanied the world's largest surfing event last year. They have also beefed up security for the more than week-long contest that could draw up to 50,000 people on a single day.

    "It's always a little tense around the time of the surfing competition, so what happened was probably a blessing," said Elaine Brummet, who's store sits in the middle of Main Street, two doors down from where rioters smashed in a bike store's window last year.

    The city has installed 16 surveillance cameras  to help police monitor the streets and the fines for drinking on the beach have doubled.

    "You may think you're safe in an alley mixing alcohol into a container and you might find yourself being watched by the police," HBPD Lt. Mitchell O'Brien said.

    Last year an unruly mob strapped bandanas on their faces and smashed in store windows, looted shops, knocked over dozens of portable toilets and threw rocks at officers.

    "Right as I left my son texted me and said, 'Hey, they're locking down downtown and I can't get out of here,' so he got locked down until 11 p.m. at night," resident Mike Folgheraiter said.

    Police arrested 20 people in all, relying on social media post by the alleged rioters to apprehend the suspects.

    The Easyrider bike shop, which had its window busted in and a bike stolen, posted a sign this year that said, "Riot Proof."

    On the HBPD's Facebook page, a commenter asked under a post detailing the new rules if the U.S. Open will be a surfing contest again.

    The HBPD replied, "that is the idea."

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