Prepare to See More Cops at Outside Lands This Year

In the wake of recent shootings, San Francisco officials really want you to know Outside Lands is safer than ever.

A man poses for a photo with San Francisco Police officers on day one of the 2018 Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park. (Photo by Kevin N. Hume)

Mass shootings rankle the public’s confidence that they will return home safe, especially from festivals or concerts. With shooting that killed three people and injured 13 others less than two weeks ago at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in recent memory, San Francisco officials repeatedly assured this week that they have a plan to deter and respond to nefarious activity at Outside Lands.

That largely revolves around an increased presence in police officers inside and outside Golden Gate Park on bicycles, horses, cars, motorcycles and on foot patrol. This is in addition to more private security guards hired by Another Planet Entertainment, the group behind the three-day festival that begins Friday.

“In light of what’s on everyone’s minds, we want everyone to know you’re going to see a lot of police officers,” said Police Chief Bill Scott on Thursday about the spate of shootings, including El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that killed a total of 31 people last weekend. “You name it, we will be there. We’re going to be very vigilant.”

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the festival, whose crowd often spills out of Golden Gate Park in a mess of dusty festival-goers, buses, and cars. (Here’s how to get around the congestion.)

“It’s going to take all of us together, collectively, to make this a success,” Mayor London Breed said. “I want everybody to know that we are prepared to do what we need to do to really address public safety and make sure that everyone has a good time and makes it here safely and makes it home safely.”

While festival organizers and San Francisco officials stressed that Outside Lands is already safe, Scott said the meetings to develop an emergency plan this year was taken to another level. However, he stayed mum on just how many officers and security guards there would be, as well as the evacuation plan. This is the second year Outside Lands requires larger bags or backpacks to be clear

“For security reasons, we don’t want to telegraph that information,” Scott said. “Everyone that’s part of the security plan knows the evacuation plan, they know what to say, [and] they know where to direct people.”

In other words, stop worrying and learn to love the security state America lives in. But not too much — this year’s Outside Lands marks the first San Francisco festival permitted to sell cannabis and officials are using it as a test.

“If it works well, we might do this for other festivals,” Breed warned. “If it doesn’t, then we’re going to have second thoughts about issuing permits. We want to have a good time but this is also about being responsible people.”

So if you see something psychedelic, maybe don’t tell the cops swarming around you.

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