It was supposed to be a calm classic rock show at Shoreline Amphitheatre on May 30, but instead the concert was plagued with fights, including ongoing brawls and six stabbings. In response, police say, they will be stepping up safety precautions for a June 26 concert featuring Ice Cube and seven other rap artists.
Police say half of the city's 98-officer police force is expected to report to work at the "Wild 94.9 Bomb" concert just in case security guards are again overwhelmed by violent concertgoers.
The Wild 94.9 Bomb concert has not been a problem in years past. But it has the potential to be a problem, said police spokesperson Liz Wylie.
"Given the fact it's been a rough year at Shoreline, we decided to staff this one at full force," Wylie said.
On the Voice's online Town Square forum, attendees of the May 30 Kiss FM Old School Fiesta concert, which featured the band War, were fuming about the violent atmosphere they witnessed at the concert. Many said they wanted police to take control of the situation.
The city's Police Department usually patrols the area outside the event while hired security guards patrol the inside. Wylie called the violence on May 30 a "freak incident," possibly caused by gang members intent on causing trouble.
"We've had this arrangement for 20 years -- we've never had to go inside," Wylie said. She added that police officers cannot run into the amphitheatre's lawn area on a moment's notice, as many would have liked. For one, police radios don't work because of the noise, so officers can't ask for help if something goes wrong.
"We have to send teams of people," Wylie said. "There's a whole bunch of issues. It's not just as simple as 'run inside.' Nobody expects a firefighter to run into a burning fire without his buddies and a proper plan."
Wylie also said the presence of police can sometimes escalate a situation that would otherwise be resolved peacefully by security guards. Nevertheless, in the wake of the May 30 show, many said they would like to see a police presence inside the venue during certain concerts.
Wylie warned that the city's small police force would have a hard time finding enough officers. By comparison, she said, San Jose sends 170 officers to the HP Pavilion, which seats only 19,190 people, while Mountain View employs 98 sworn officers at Shoreline Amphitheatre, which seats 22,000.
People have asked, "Why not just shut (the concert) down?" Wylie said. "If we had to we could. In 20 years we never had to shut a concert down early."
The May 30 show was shut down 15 minutes early by Amphitheatre staff. By then, six people had been stabbed and fights had been occurring sporadically for hours, according to police and concertgoers. The venue reportedly stopped serving alcohol at 8:30 p.m.
Police still have no suspects in the stabbings, and said the victims' injuries were not serious or life-threatening.
In light of the stabbings, some of the May 30 attendees have called for metal detectors and weapons searches during certain shows. The city could make such measures a requirement, according the lease agreement for the city-owned venue, which was modified after a 2005 murder following a KMEL Summer Jam concert, among other incidents.
"I'm not certain everyone wants to go to through a metal detector at every concert," said council member Mike Kasperzak. "And I'm not sure the community wants to impose that."
The amphitheater's operator, Live Nation, will have to foot the bill for the added security measures on June 26, including an hourly overtime rate for police. It is a cost which will likely be passed on to concertgoers in the form of higher ticket prices, Kasperzak said.
In recent years, city attorney Michael Martello said, Live Nation has been cooperative and thorough in creating security plans before each show.
"For years they've been cooperating with us," he said, adding that the amphitheater's operators have used a variety of security measures, including undercover agents, strike teams, metal detectors and cutting off the sale of alcohol.
"They have the ability to do anything they need to do to make staff, the community and patrons feel safe," Martello said.