VBPD speaks with hotels and motels about tourism

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Communication with the public. That’s part of the new tourism season safety plan from Virginia Beach Police. It started last week when police held a meeting with business owners.

Thursday, police aimed to convince members of the Virginia Beach Hotel Motel Association they’re ready to handle the upcoming tourism season. There are nearly 100 hotels and motels in the VBHMA.

For the most part, police calmed the fears of business owners at last week’s meeting. They explained they will up their manpower and their foot patrols at the Oceanfront during busy times.

Police say because College Beach Weekend is not an “official” event and has no central organizing group to contact, it’s difficult to forecast the size of the crowd expected in mid-April.

Last year, plans for the College Beach Weekend violence spread via social media. This year, police told the public they’re monitoring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and have yet to see any plans being made for a repeat event.

Virginia Beach Police say in order to keep this year’s college weekend from turning out like last year’s, they will need help from the hotel and motel owners. Police said they made 180 arrests in a 12 hour period last year, four times as many as the same period a week earlier.

The head of the VBHMA said his members are already taking steps to do their part. Joseph Dabiero said his members are double-checking access points, checking security systems and taking steps to keep large crowds from spilling into hotels and motels.

Still, some business owners weren’t convinced.

“Do you have a plan like a hurricane plan when you know this is coming and you can warn business owners so we don’t have our teenage employees and our wives and our friends working at our businesses so they can get out of there before something happens?” Asked business owner Rick Kowalewitch at last week’s meeting.

Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera told 10 On Your Side having police in uniform on foot during busy weekends will help them determine the difference between someone posing a dangerous threat, and a college student simply having fun.

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