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This Halloween weekend, law enforcement officers from far and wide are set to flood downtown Santa Cruz in a literal and hopefully brief illustration of the term 'police state.'

By Curtis Cartier

Of the 15,000 to 30,000 ghouls, ghosts, ninjas, pirates and sexy pirates set to mob downtown this weekend for Santa Cruz's infamous Halloween celebration, it's a guarantee that several dozen will spend the night looking ridiculous at the county jail. And since even the mild-mannered belligerents who don't wind up in the clink can face triple fines ($480-plus) for things like open alcohol containers, trespassing and urinating in public, it would behoove would-be revelers to familiarize themselves with the police state that's soon to be imposed on the "Halloween safety enhancement zone" bordered by Center, Water, River and Sycamore streets.

OK, we're kidding. Kind of. More than 100 police officers, detectives and gang specialists will be on hand from Santa Cruz, UCSC and Watsonville. Additionally, Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies, California Highway Patrol officers, California State Park rangers and Alcoholic Beverage Control officers will be on the ground and in the air looking for troublemakers. Police especially will be looking for suspected gang members, who, in previous years, have been responsible for multiple stabbings and fights. Last year--by most accounts a peaceful Halloween--saw 44 arrests, 31 triple fine violations and 380 calls for service. Zach Friend, spokesman for SCPD, says it's not large crowds he's worried about, but "large, intoxicated crowds. If you are going to come downtown, you need to play safe and play sober. And if you're going to incite violence, we're going to take early steps to get you off the avenue."

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