Arrests, citations up during spring break, but attendance was double

Biloxi Black Beach Weekend participants gather for an impromptu singalong on the beach on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Biloxi Black Beach Weekend participants gather for an impromptu singalong on the beach on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Tim Isbell

Arrests and citations increased during this year’s Biloxi Black Beach Weekend and other related events as a record -breaking number of 60,000 or more turned out to party.

The number of arrests and tickets was minuscule in comparison with the number of revelers, but was higher than the number of felony arrests and tickets police issued at last year’s Biloxi gathering.

Biloxi police over the weekend arrested 46 people, nine on felony charges; issued 196 citations; and ordered 67 vehicles towed, numbers released by a city official show.

Police also conducted 167 traffic stops.

In comparison with last year’s events, police in 2016 arrested nine people. Five of those were felonies that involved people wanted on warrants from other law enforcement agencies, not for any crimes at spring break, Biloxi police Lt. Christopher De Back said. Police issued 131 citations and had 31 vehicles towed.

Attendance was about double this year, up from 35,000 in 2016.

Arrests and ticket numbers aren’t in yet from the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies have jurisdiction over the beach. Sheriff Troy Peterson said his numbers are still being gathered.

Police Chief John Miller has said most of this year’s revelers were well-behaved, but he did say the spring break was one of the city’s “most troublesome” in recent years.

Gulfport police have not reported spring-break related arrests, but the city’s patrol officers at times blocked U.S. 90 at Cowan Road, diverting cars away from Biloxi until extreme traffic congestion eased up.

Visitors who came for the weekend unexpectedly arrived early Friday night and remained here past noon Sunday.

Parts of U.S. 90 remained congested through late Sunday night.

The events’ organizer and promoter used social media to inform spring breakers of the “dos” and “don’ts” and urged them to park at the Coliseum to help reduce traffic on the road.

The Coliseum has more than 2,600 parking spaces. About 5,000 cars were parked there over the weekend, Executive Director Matt McDonnell said. About 1,500 cars had used Coliseum parking last year.

One more arrest

Police made an additional arrest Monday after a man who claimed to be a vendor of black beach weekend merchandise was pulled over.

Police said Leroy Jimad Jackson, 33, of Houston, had 44 doses of MDMA in his vehicle. MDMA is also known as ecstasy or molly. Police arrested Jackson on a charge of trafficking of a controlled substance.

Sun Herald social media editor Justin Mitchell contributed to this report.

Spring break citation report issued by Biloxi police

  • Vehicles towed: 67
  • Total citations: 196
  • Careless driving: 20
  • Reckless driving: 16
  • No proof of insurance: 14
  • DUI citations: 13
  • No driver’s license: 8
  • Tag violations: 5
  • Disregarding traffic control device: 3
  • Safety restraint violations: 2
  • Speeding: 1
  • Other citations: 104 (most were improper parking, riding on a vehicle and charges such as disobeying a lawful order)