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Hollister
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December 5, 2022

The hefty price of security

Relative to attendance, Hollister spends far more on police
officers for its biker event than other cities with major
motorcycle rallies. The numbers here, however, reflect
state-required overtime pay for out-of-town cops, heightened
attention toward street gangs and a generally higher cost of
living.
Relative to attendance, Hollister spends far more on police officers for its biker event than other cities with major motorcycle rallies. The numbers here, however, reflect state-required overtime pay for out-of-town cops, heightened attention toward street gangs and a generally higher cost of living.

Law enforcement costs for the Hollister Motorcycle Rally were about $320,000 in 2007 and should be around the same in 2008 as well. Compare that to Sturgis, S.D., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the local governments each spend about $300,000 annually on additional public safety costs related to their rallies, but over much longer periods of time.

The City of Sturgis, which runs the Black Hills event that attracts an estimated half-million visitors over 10 days, budgeted $300,806 for expected, additional costs related to the 2008 rally set to take place in early August, said Sturgis Police Chief Jim Bush.

The City of Myrtle Beach, the home of two spring biker rallies usually taking place back to back over three weeks and attracting “hundreds of thousands” of people, spent a combined $281,000 for both events this year on all related personnel costs, such as police and public works duties, said City Hall spokesman Mark Kruea, who noted how there’s a push to get both rallies canceled because public sentiment has swayed largely against holding them.

Hollister, meanwhile, is spending more money – reimbursed by private promoter Horse Power Promotions – and over a mere three days.

One of the common complaints about Hollister’s event surrounds the immense police activity – with more than 100 officers roaming the grounds throughout the weekend from various local and state agencies. But officials contend it’s necessary considering the mass of people and presence of both outlaw and street gang members throughout the event area.

Hollister Police Chief Jeff Miller has even pointed out how members of outlaw biker gangs and local street gangs are starting to party more often, including a police response to a reported shots fired call – to a house where police believe biker and street gang members were partying – early Sunday morning of the rally weekend.

Bush, the Sturgis police chief, referred to his town of fewer than 7,000 citizens as “pretty rural” and he noted how there’s really no presence of street gangs like in Hollister.

Not that Bush hasn’t dealt with his share of occasional problems. He pointed to the 2006 shooting at a nearby town between rival outlaw gang members and another bar shooting and stabbing in 1990 as two of the more serious issues he’s seen. He said that, as a whole, such occurrences are “very sparse” in frequency.

The Sturgis chief, though, said it’s hard to compare police activity in a city like Sturgis to a place like Hollister because staffing there, in general, costs much less.

“Comparing the price of law enforcement, it’s much cheaper here than it is in Hollister or Daytona,” he said.

But bringing in so many outside agencies’ officers to Hollister adds an additional burden, though, noted Seth Doulton, owner of Horse Power Promotions.

Doulton said some of the visiting officers make about $85 an hour – it’s required by California law to pay them time and a half – and that many stay at the Hilton Garden Inn at a cost to the city of $159 a night.

“No other rallies in California use as much public law enforcement as we do,” Doulton said.

Asked whether he thinks the city uses too many cops, he said: “Personally, I think it’s perfect. I think it’s just right, and I’m not just saying that to be on the chief’s side. Whatever he says is enough is enough.

“He’s the one that’s left standing. If he wants a battle ship, I’ll figure out how to get it there.”

Chief Miller couldn’t be reached before press time.

Doulton did, however, say the state should absorb some police costs associated with the rally because of its impact on the entire California economy.

Sturgis, meanwhile, brings in outside cops from several states surrounding South Dakota, yet still keeps its costs relatively minimal.

One way is by having officers roam the grounds in pairs, Bush noted, while Hollister sends them out in groups of four to six.

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