Foxborough Police Chief: Better Preparation Led to 102 Arrests at Country Fest
Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary held a press conference outside of the Foxborough Public Safety Building Monday afternoon to address the mass arrests and over 600 incidents that occurred at Country Fest this past weekend.
The 102 arrests and over 600 incidents reported by Foxborough Police during last weekend's New England Country Music Festival at Gillette Stadium was the result of more preparation, according to Foxborough Police Chief Edward O'Leary.
"We were better prepared for this operation than any other event that we have done at Gillette Stadium," O'Leary said during a press conference outside of the Foxborough Public Safety Building Monday. "We spent an inordinate amount of time looking at what happened in 2010 and 2011 and trying to develop a better strategy for trying to deal with mass arrest situations. We actually processed – the entire processing feature – both at the Springsteen show and at the [Patriots] preseason game on Monday night to try what we were doing."
O'Leary said Foxborough Police spent nearly three months preparing for the town's ninth consecutive "Country Fest," which was held this past Friday and Saturday at Gillette Stadium and headlined by Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw. Massachusetts State Police and Gillette Stadium security personnel were also involved in prepping and executing this year's improved efforts to address public safety issues during mass crowd events.
"We had a plan, it was carried out the way we envisioned it and resulted in people who were dealing in unsafe behavior being separated from those that were there just to enjoy the show," O'Leary said.
Those 102 arrested for criminal behavior and the over 500 taken into to protective custody and separated from the responsible concertgoers was out of a total crowd of over 103,000 over the two-day period.
"It’s a tremendous amount of people," O'Leary said. "We are a suburban police department. I’m not Boston or Quincy that have an inordinate amount of resources. We dedicate a tremendous amount of time and bring in officers from 17 different communities and the sheriff’s department to try and facilitate the lack of resources to deal with crowds of this nature."
By bringing in outside help for events of this nature at Gillette Stadium, O'Leary said the Foxborough community still receives the appropriate attention from his police department.
"We do maintain the daily normal staffing and those officers are responding to calls between what we are doing at the stadium," O'Leary said.
Furthermore, the costs of detail officers for these types of events do not fall on the taxpayers.
"We bill [costs of detail officers] to Gillette Stadium," O'Leary said. "The pay that is owed to officers for the time is billed to the stadium. However, 600 people for roughly a 54-hour time period does put up a challenge because we don’t have infrastructure of the bigger communities [to hold that amount of people]."
O'Leary said the planning for last weekend's concerts began in May to put a system in place to deal with mass crowds and arrests during major events.
"[We] knew what was coming and we wanted to have a system to deal with a mass arrest situation where we have officers in the field intervening activities and parties to try and reduce the incidents, especially of underage drinking," O'Leary said.
Of the 271 incidents reported during Friday's concert, 112 involved females and 95 involved underage drinking.
"We had a significant trend in the number of young women getting involved in poor behavior and excessive drinking that end up in custody," O'Leary said. "Of the custodies we had, almost everyone, involves the misuse of alcohol. It shows that underage drinking is a significant problem."
O'Leary added there were several 16 year olds taken into protective custody for underage drinking with the youngest person "getting drunk" was 15.
While O'Leary noted this year's figures were much higher than in years past, it was clearly a result of better preparation and taking a more proactive security approach.
"I think it is a result of being better prepared and trying to have more of an impact for better behaviors and keep dangerous issues from happening," O'Leary said. ... "We tried to restrict the lots to a 1:30 p.m. opening time because we found the longer [people] were in the lots, the more they are drinking and the worse the behavior is. We were fairly successful of that, although between 1:30 and 3 p.m. we had extensive backup of local roads with everybody trying to arrive to be there for the 1:30 p.m. lot opening."
When asked to comment on complaints people had against the department for how they were treated during the weekend concerts, O'Leary said he has always been an activist when it comes to underage drinking and that no one was "unfairly treated" because they were underage and around alcohol before offering a familiar line from current New England Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick.
"I will quote coach Belichick 'It is what it is,'" said O'Leary.
Country Fest Incidents by the Numbers:
Day 1 (Friday, Aug. 24)
- 276 incident reported
- 60 criminal arrests made – majority were underage drinking
- 216 protective custodies
Day 2 (Saturday, Aug. 25)
- 293 incidents reported
- 42 criminal arrests made
- 251 protective custodies
- 102 criminal arrests made
- 467 protective custodies
- 569 total incidents
O'Leary added that Massachusetts State Police reported 47 protective custodies, putting total incidents for the weekend over 600.