Darien Lake and Police Take Fresh Approach to Calm Crowds

11:54 PM, Jul 12, 2013   |    comments
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DARIEN CENTER, N.Y. - Friday night there were thousands of people out enjoying the Brad Paisley concert at Darien Lake. And while there are many who will exit the gates with great memories, there are others that will leave with tickets and a bit of a stain on their legal record.

This has prompted law enforcement agencies and Darien Lake officials to deal with the rowdy crowds and other problems ranging from major traffic jams, to violence and underage drinking.

The Genesee County Sheriff's Office says last year there were more than 600 arrests for underage drinking there. So far this year, that number is on par at about 200 arrests.

"This is the goal, to keep people safe, get people in here to have a good time and get out safely that is the overall goal," said Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office.

To slowly curb illegal activity, this is the first full concert season that's prohibited people from walking into the park to see a concert. That means everyone needs to be driven there. This strategy began at the tail end of last summer.

"We think actually concentrating the parking lot helped in enforcement, so that we can control all the people who are coming to a concert," said Steve Hallowell, the marketing director at Darien Lake.

Also, a checkpoint, which has been used for a few years, starts a couple hours before a concert to check identification. Underage drinkers have alcohol confiscated and are fined. But there's less emphasis on the checkpoint when traffic lines get too long.

"Yes, it's not 100 percent, there's no way we can stop every car in Darien Lake, so it's a very quick check," said Dibble.

Police say they rely on other officers inside the park including those who are undercover to catch illegal activity.

Also, Darien Lake completed a fence around the park, to keep concertgoers from walking in. Police say there is enough parking here and enough officers. Darien Lake says it spends $500,000 for security and traffic control for their summer concert series.

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