June 28, 2006
Provincetown's July 4 plan: Defuse potential problems
By ERIC WILLIAMS
PROVINCETOWN - The plan goes like this:
''We're going to spread out, keep the streets open and no booze,'' Provincetown Police Chief Ted Meyer said, describing the strategy to handle this year's July 4 fireworks crowd and avoid a repeat of last year's near-riot.
''This thing is going to be like clockwork,'' he predicted about Tuesday night's event.
Improved parking, better medical and rescue services, officers with cameras, and police riding horses, bicycles and all-terrain vehicles are part of the plan worked out by town officials and community members after a year of questioning whether Provincetown could still light the fuse on the Fourth.
Last July 4, several fights broke out after the town's fireworks display. Forty young people were taken into protective custody or arrested, most charged with disorderly conduct. Several minor injuries were reported.
Police received several complaints alleging over-zealous policing, but a review board deemed police response as appropriate.
Meyer said approximately 40 officers would be on duty during the fireworks this year, about the same as last year.
''But we're going to have different kinds of officers,'' he said. Local and state police will work the detail along with personnel from the Barnstable County and Plymouth County sheriff's departments.
Officers on horseback
Plymouth County will provide three or four horse-mounted officers, according to Province-town police Staff Sgt. Warren Tobias.
''They're great at moving people,'' Tobias said.
Two state police officers will document the evening with cameras, Meyer said.
''We hope the cameras have a preventative aspect, because people will know they're being filmed,'' he said.
Also, ''we're not going to be tolerating open alcohol in public,'' Tobias said. ''We'll be taking steps to curb that during the day.''
ATV and bike patrols will be used to cut down on public drinking, particularly on the town's harbor-front beaches.
''The businesses wanted fireworks, and we came up with a plan and I feel good about it,'' said Candace Collins-Boden, executive director of the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce and a frequent participant in fireworks meetings over the past year.
Collins-Boden particularly liked the idea of using Cape Cod National Seashore parking lots to alleviate the dangerous practice of fireworks-frazzled visitors dumping their cars along Route 6 to make the show in time.
Parking at Seashore
Seashore parking lots at Beech Forest, the Province Lands Visitor Center and Race Point Beach will be available for free parking from 5 p.m. onward, with two free shuttle buses taking passengers into Provincetown and dropping them off at the bas-relief sculpture behind town hall.
After the fireworks, the shuttle buses will return people to the parking lots until midnight.
On the medical front, Outer Cape Health Services will staff a tent behind Provincetown Town Hall with a doctor and nurse.
Meyer said recent meetings with Outer Cape rescue personnel have made him confident that enough ambulances will be available throughout the region, just in case.
The police chief sang the praises of the various agencies that created the plan, and issued a genial invite to all fireworks lovers:
''Come to Provincetown, be yourself, enjoy yourself, have a good time, but be responsible,'' he said.
Eric Williams can be reached at email@example.com.
(Published: June 28, 2006)