Mountain View Voice

Opinion - June 5, 2009

Better security needed at Shoreline Amphitheatre

Once again it has become necessary to ask whether more stringent security measures should be enforced at Shoreline Amphitheater, the famed city-owned concert venue in the Bayshore area.

Luckily, no one was killed this time, although six people were stabbed. That was not the case in August 2005, when a young man was shot and killed at Old Middlefield Way and Rengstorff Avenue following a fight at Shoreline's KMEL Summer Jam concert.

Saturday's incidents apparently were sparked by a number of concertgoers who were not there for the music. Shoreline's own security is usually enough to control the sometimes-unruly crowds, but somehow the young men looking for trouble last Saturday got away from them.

The event was billed as the KISS FM Old School Fiesta, but the family-friendly evening envisioned by many patrons turned violent early on at around 6:30 p.m. and again at 9:30, when a much larger clash led to a call for help from Mountain View police.

Ultimately, 36 police officers from Palo Alto, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Stanford, the county sheriff's office and the California Highway Patrol helped quell the violence. Unfortunately, the victims seem to have shared little information about who stabbed them, and as of this writing no suspects have been identified.

We believe it is time for the city to talk to Live Nation, the Shoreline operator, about stepping up security, especially at concerts that might attract miscreants like those who stole the show last Saturday. With its long history as a live music promoter, Live Nation should be second to none in making its concerts safe and secure.

The company is not doing so, however, a fact made clear by the gaps in knowledge police are encountering as they investigate the case. For example, at this time police still do not know if metal detectors were consistently used to check patrons at last week's concert. It seems that Shoreline implements different security levels depending on the concert. In this case, if metal detectors were used, they failed to locate the knives used in the stabbings.

Among other things, Shoreline's security personnel should be trained to identify gang colors and to be on the lookout for potential fights between rival gangs. Security inside the venue should be stepped up, and even the smallest incidents quashed immediately and those involved ejected. If Mountain View police had been stationed sooner inside the amphitheater, their presence might have discouraged the fighting.

Patrons of Shoreline Amphitheatre have a right to expect a safe and secure experience, especially at "family" events. Although most Shoreline concerts attain that goal, security failed miserably last Saturday. We think all Shoreline concertgoers would be willing to cooperate with increased security if it guarantees them a safe and comfortable experience at one of the Bay Area's best outdoor concert venues.

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