By most accounts, Comic-Con International San Diego 2009 was a successful show. The con itself posted a record sellout, and reports from some dealers at the con indicates sales were decent to strong on some days (though perhaps not as strong as past shows) despite the recession. In the face of ridiculously long lines and crowded aisles on the floor, Comic-Con organizers, by all accounts, ran a smooth show. One can’t imagine anyone was surprised by the lines, especially for the Hollywood panels and big-name guests.
Still, attendance is reported to have been in the range of 120,000. When you get that many people together in a limited space at the same time, something’s bound to go wrong and people are bound to misbehave… or not. Eye on Comics contacted the San Diego Police Department about the impact Comic-Con has on the city and any associated police activity.
Monica Munoz, media services manager with the SDPD, said there were few incident reports related to the comics and pop-culture convention last week. She said there was only one arrest at Comic-Con this year, which was for shoving an officer on duty just outside the event. The police department only recorded a single Comic-Con-related arrest in 2008 as well, and that was for being drunk in public, she said.
“This year, we had four kids who were separated from their parents, but they were all reunited with family,” Munoz said. “Other than that it was a successful event, as it is every year.”
As those limited, minor incidents suggest, the San Diego Police Department doesn’t experience a spike in criminal activity or disturbances during the convention, Munoz said, even though tens of thousands of attendees descend upon the city for a few days.
The police department’s website indicates its vice unit “conducted a two-day operation called Operation Street Sweep II which targeted ‘johns’ or customers of prostitutes within San Diego.”
A news release indicates that operation led to the arrests of 26 suspects on charges ranging from recruiting women for the purpose of prostitution to agreeing to engage in prostitution. However, Munoz said the timing had nothing to do with Comic-Con nor were suspects considered to be connected to the event.
“This sweep had nothing to do with the convention, and in the release itself, it mentions the streets where the sweep took place. Neither neighborhood or street was within eight miles of the convention center,” she said.
A perusal of convention reports online haven’t revealed any reports of theft or fraud at the event this year, nor were there any reports of police dealing with retailers at the convention over illegal merchandise.
Police officers were present at the San Diego Convention Center throughout the event, Munoz said, because Comic-Con organizers arrange for their presence.
“The event organizers pay for our services,” she said. “They pay for the special-event traffic controllers who take care of traffic issues and the police officers who are inside the event.”
Munoz referred questions about the value and details of that contract to the officer of the San Diego city clerk. A deputy city clerk redirected an email inquiry from Eye on Comics back to the police department.
David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for Comic-Con, declined to discuss specifics about security at the event.
“Typically we don’t comment about security except to say that we take it very seriously,” he wrote in an email. “We do work with a variety of deparments associated with the city, and this, of course, includes police.”
Representatives from the San Diego Convention Center didn’t respond to inquiries.
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