PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The chief of police in Ontario is speaking out following a last-minute Snoop Dogg concert in eastern Oregon last Saturday.
“These are events you plan for months in advance, not a day in advance,” Chief Romero told KOIN 6 News on Wednesday. “We dodged a bullet here this past weekend, we got lucky.”
Romero is working with the City Attorney’s Office to figure out if any actions may be taken against Hotbox. The chief says upwards of 3,000 people attended the concert — and he estimates 70 percent came from Idaho, which created traffic issues on Interstate 84. He says local businesses also voiced concerns about parking and traffic.
“In my professional opinion, (the company) placed our local community in jeopardy, due to their decision to operate this scale of event without any prior safety planning with local officials, operating without the proper permits,” Romero said.
Snoop Dogg’s appearance was a last-minute addition to a celebration planned for the opening of a recreational marijuana dispensary by Hotbox Farms. Romero — who previously worked for the Los Angeles Police Department — says he has seen the rapper’s concerts first-hand and felt more time was needed to plan adequately for public safety.
“The planning looks very different for a Snoop Dogg concert as it would for a Barry Manilow concert,” Romero said. “Not being provided adequate notification to plan for the event or procure sufficient resources to insure the public safety brought a huge challenge to OPD and the city,” Romero said.
Chief Romero said police were called to “complaints of fights in parking lots, traffic collisions, and ingestion of Marijuana and alcohol in public places.” He also pointed to mass casualty events like the 2017 concert shooting in Las Vegas and the recent Gilroy, Calif. Garlic Festival shooting as potential concerns — especially with a small police department.
“Imagine that same incident occurring here in Ontario, a department that only has 23 sworn officers,” the chief added.
Steven Meland, co-owner of Hotbox Farms, understands the concerns and says the company did its best to plan ahead with the limited time organizers had.
“I certainly echo some of those concerns, however we do feel this was a huge economic boon for the city,” Meland said. “Timing certainly could’ve been better, and we anticipate that we’ll have a much better collaborative effort in the future.”
Hotbox doesn’t anticipate facing any ordinance violations following the event — but Meland says he’s working with the chief and the City Manager’s Office to reimburse the city on any outstanding costs to the public. He’s hoping to work better with officials moving forward since they anticipate having more big events.
“This was the first event that we had thrown here in the area, and we just had a great time with it,” Meland added. “We definitely expect that there’ll be many many more events in the near future.”