Lessons learned from Spring Break 2017

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi Black Beach Weekend 2017 is officially in the history books. Now, it's time to look back on what worked and what didn't when throngs of people came for a visit.

Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich summed it up this way.

"We're assessing the good, the bad, and the ugly at this point in time. To put it in a nutshell, traffic and trash. Those are the two big issues that I've seen, but the volume was so much more," said Gilich.

Promoters estimate around 70,000 people showed up this year. That's almost double the crowd of 2016.

Biloxi police officers worked hard. Maj. Jim Adamo is the patrol commander with the Biloxi Police Department.

"We did a very good job of preparing the best we could with the resources that we had available to us," said Adamo.

But, there were problems, including criminals, according to Adamo.

"There was an element that came down here and caused some significant issue for us, whether it was actual arrests or calls for service," said Adamo.

Some calls were false, like reported shootings and the scares that followed.

"The issues that were created was usually large groups of people that were running from one area to another and that created traffic control issues. That created safety issues," Adamo explained.

Entire neighborhoods, like Briarfield, were choked off, but a fix may be on the way.

"Hopefully, the new road going off of Popp's Ferry coming all the way down to Hwy. 90 will be able to provide us some degree of relief for those people in the future," said Adamo.

The garbage left behind is something that's almost impossible to stop by issuing tickets, Adamo said.

"Pulling officers off of their duty as far as pedestrian and traffic control for a littering issue becomes problematic for us."

Sunday caught everyone by surprise. The police command center was gone, and thousands stayed an extra day, unlike past years.

"It's not so much as having the command post there as it was having manpower there. I obviously underestimated the size of the crowd that would stick around on Sunday, and we'll obviously have to give it greater consideration next year," Adamo said.

With these lessons learned, city leaders say next year will be better.

There were 52 arrests made by Biloxi police directly tied to the spring break event. The most curious one was the arrest of former Saints defensive lineman Junior Galette. He was arrested Friday night at MGM Park after getting into a fight and running away. He was charged with disorderly conduct and failure to comply.

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