7/18/06 REVIEW: Panic, it’s the police

JACKSON HOLE DAILY NEWS- Panic, it's the police
By Martin Reed
July 18, 2006

Expect more than just thousands of concertgoers roaming the Snow King Amphitheater when popular jam-rock band Widespread Panic performs Wednesday.

At least a dozen uniformed and undercover officers will patrol the concert. The police presence resembles that of last year’s show by the band that generated numerous drug arrests.

“We’d be foolish not to take note of that and respond accordingly,” Chief of Police Dan Zivkovich said Monday. “So with the past pattern of drug arrests that are there, we certainly are going to have an extra contingent of officers on hand.”

At last year’s Jackson show, police issued drug- and alcohol-related charges to at least 10 people. Police arrested six people and ticketed four people on various charges including three drug felonies.

Among the arrests were a 26-year-old Mississippi man who allegedly had about 27 ounces of psilocybin mushrooms in 45 individually wrapped packages. Police arrested two others for possession of mushrooms, marijuana and Ecstasy.

“Ideally we would not make any arrests. I would rather be criticized for having a few extra officers there without having anything to do” than the opposite, Zivkovich said.

Officers will focus on “stopping any drug transactions and drug use that are going on up there and we’ll have extra officers on hand to do that,” the chief said. “At the same time, we’re hoping the dozen arrests that were made last year will send the message to the folks that this isn’t the place to come and do that.”

Jackson police had 10 officers and the sheriff’s office had two deputies working last year’s show, along with six members of the Citizens Mounted Patrol. Last year’s attendance was about 3,500 people.

This year’s concert has a capacity of 4,200 people and the show must end by 11 p.m. In addition to the officers, members of the horseback patrol will monitor the venue’s boundary.