Crowd concerns at the Va. Beach Oceanfront

Crowd concerns at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront on April 26, 2014. (WAVY/Lavoy Harrell)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Police braced for an influx of college students at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Saturday as part of College Beach Weekend, and closed part of Atlantic Avenue around 9 p.m.

Officials are hoping to avoid a repeat of violence that broke out during a similar college event this time last year. More than 150 people were arrested for a number of crimes, including assaults, robberies and stabbings.

Critics said the Virginia Beach Police Department was caught off guard. This year, all 800-plus officers on the force are on standby.

Crowds of young people were walking up and down Atlantic Avenue Saturday afternoon, and traffic was at a crawl down the strip. Around 9 p.m., police closed Atlantic Avenue to traffic at 17th Street.

A WAVY News 10 crew at the Oceanfront noticed a large police presence. WAVY News’ Deanna LeBlanc reported seeing five police officers wearing protective vests outside an ABC store, as well as officers at almost every street corner.

“They’re doing a great job,” said Bob Irizarry, regional manager of 17th Street Surf Shop. “They’ve been a pretty constant presence and everything’s going really well today.”

So far, Virginia Beach Police say they have investigated three incidents. Friday night, officers investigated an armed robbery on 18th Street, but no charges were filed. Early Saturday afternoon, police investigated a fight that involved a knife, but no one was seriously hurt.

Stay with WAVY News 10 for continuing coverage from the Oceanfront. 
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