Friday, June 15, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Despite a near 30 percent increase in attendance from last year, the number of crime and medical incidents at last weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival were on par with the previous year’s festival, with a slight uptick in narcotics-related arrests, according to statistics released by Metro Police.
Fifty-three people were arrested for felony drug-related offenses, though Metro did not comment on the specific nature and breakdown of those arrests. That compares to 29 felony arrests at 2011’s event, the majority of which were narcotics related
Still, far fewer people were arrested for drugs both years in Las Vegas compared with the festival's last Los Angeles incarnation, in 2010. LAPD officials reported making 118 arrests, the majority of which were drug-related, at the event which drew around 185,000 attendees -- just over half the number of fans who showed up this year.
“I had 40 plainclothes detectives from narcotics and vice working it. If I had a thousand I would have made 1,000 arrests, it was so packed with drugs,” LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon told the Los Angeles Times after the June 2010 event that left one dead and sent scores more to the hospital due to drug-related complications. Gannon, a longtime veteran of the LAPD, said that had never seen so many people under the influence in one location.
In contrast, Metro officers on-site at last weekend’s event commented on fans’ respectful behavior, though they could not assess the extent of drug use at the time.
“They’re just trying to have a good time, and I don’t blame them,” Officer Matt Hawking said of a large crowd who tried to keep the party going after the festival was shut down on its second night with an impromptu psychedelic dance party. “They’re being safe, so they’re welcome to stay.”
In addition to felony narcotics-related arrests, there was one instance of strong-arm robbery, bringing the total of felony arrests at the 2012 festival to 54 out of 62 total arrests, compared to 60 total arrests last year.
Several incidents dropped in numbers from last year, including traffic citations (down from 2 to 0), misdemeanor arrests (down from 31 to 8) and DUI alcohol arrests (down from 3 to 0). Matching last year, there were no gross misdemeanor arrests, DUI drug arrests or traffic fatalities. Medical calls were on par with last year at 485 (a final number for the 2011 festival was not available, but estimates place it at close to 500), which can likely be credited to the significant drop in temperatures at this weekend’s event. The number of those transported to the hospital from the festival fell slightly, down to a total of 16 from last year’s 17.
There were five traffic accidents this year, compared to one last year.
There were 130 ejections from this year’s festival; a total for 2011 is not available.
Last weekend's festival was marred by an abbreviated Saturday night due to high winds; attendance topped at 90,000 before the gates were closed around 1 a.m. But Saturday night ticketholders were allowed to return Sunday night, when attendance reached 115,000 fans. But in fact there may have been many more, due to what one festival official said was the rampant black market sale of wristbands and entrance cards.
“Some guy said he was just sold this card for $25,” said a security staff member, handing the card to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. This issue was not, unlike last year, with counterfeit wristbands, but rather that someone had gotten a hold of extra VIP guest and media wristbands and was turning a significant number for profit.
Despite that concern, the venue and its seven stages never managed to take on the claustrophobic feel that outdoor festivals of this caliber are often prone to.
There’s a great deal to be taken away from this year’s festival; there were the high points – electrifying DJ sets, eye-popping outfits and dancing with thousands of strangers as the sun came up. There were moments of mediocrity – the handful of push-and-shovers in the crowds, poor cell phone reception and over-priced beverages. And there were the low points – the shut down of night 2, excessive traffic and instances of crime and injury, however low.
Above all, however, what’s most memorable from this year’s festival was its fans. While no crowd is without its bad apples, this bunch was among the most respectful, friendly and fun we’ve encountered. Organizers are certainly to credit for the success, safety and spectacle of the 2012 festival, but it was ultimately up to those who attended to drive those factors home. While only in its second year, the partnership between Electric Daisy Carnival and Las Vegas continues to show great promise for all parties involved.