SCMPD talk festival wristband enforcement - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police talk festival wristband enforcement

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Major James Barnwell Major James Barnwell
SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Crowd control, public safety and compliance.Those three issues are the top priorities of law enforcement during the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival in Savannah. 

The two day festival is only a few days away, and people are expected to arrive even earlier.

Back in the mix of changes this year is the sale of wristbands in order to drink alcohol in public inside the expanded controlled entertainment festival zone, which is not only River Street anymore, but includes Bay Street, City Market, Ellis Square, Congress Street and a large chunk of downtown.

While police hope it spreads out the normally heavily congested River Street crowds during St. Patrick's Day festivities, the return of wristbands will also put some strain on the eyes of those 300 plus officers working the expanded festival zone.

You will need a $5 wristband to drink alcohol in public inside the festival zone on Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

You need to purchase a red wristband for $5 for Friday and a fluorescent blue wristband for $5 for Saturday. The two can be bought together, but must be fastened upon purchase and remain fastened. There will be 22 locations to purchase wristbands inside the festival zone as well as roaming wristband vendors.

Some wonder if the mid-day start of the festival time on Saturday could pose problems with huge crowds already formed, and many already drinking, and police forced to begin enforcing the wristband ordinance, asking revelers to pay $5 for a wristband when they've already been out and about drinking in those same areas before 5 p.m. on that Saturday.

"At 5 p.m., once the festival kicks in, we'll give everybody ample time to make the purchase," Major James Barnwell told WTOC.

Inside the expanded controlled entertainment festival zone, folks only need to purchase a $5 bracelet if they are drinking in public. Folks who are not drinking or are staying inside a business do not have to buy a wristband. However, if they leave a business with a drink and without a wristband, they should be prepared to be stopped.

"The request will be made politely and cordially. We know when people consume alcohol they become somewhat belligerent but we are professionals and that is what we do, that is our job, to calm people down," Barnwell said.

Barnwell said folks will either be directed to the nearest wristband vendor, or asked to empty out their beer, depending on the situation. If you are just stepping outside to smoke, and returning inside a business, Lt. David Gay told WTOC last week you would not be told to buy a wristband.

If you don't buy a wristband and plan on drinking, you run the risk of a $67 fine and citation, and if you don't live in Chatham County, you may even take a trip to jail. 

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