Statement from City Manager Regarding Inquiries about College Beach Weekend

Monday, May 01, 2017

Virginia Beach is a tourist destination for a reason – our beautiful beaches, great amenities and hospitable people make this an inviting place to visit, and this past weekend was no exception – we hosted tens of thousands of people for a variety of sporting and festival events as well as the fifth year of college beach weekend. Tourism is a cornerstone of the local economy and we welcome everyone to our city. At the same time, we expect people to respect each other, our property and our laws.

To be clear, while college beach weekend is not, and has never been, a city-hosted or sanctioned event, the vast majority of the more than 40,000 young people who came this weekend were here just to have a good time. Unfortunately, as is so often the case these days, a small number of determined people can ruin an event for the rest. The isolated incidents of violence together with heavy traffic, litter, and rude behavior have cast a negative view over the whole weekend. The Virginia Beach Police together with partner agencies, including the Virginia State Police, did an outstanding job of preventing events from escalating. Based on preliminary reports:

  • From 6:00 pm Friday through 4:00 am Sunday, officers answered 372 calls for service and initiated an additional 206 calls for service (traffic stops, officer initiated, etc.) for a total of 578 calls for service at the oceanfront. That volume is on par with calls for service on a typical holiday weekend
  • However, several of these calls for service involved large crowds of people running, screaming and seeking to instigate police officers to engage them. Our officers remained disciplined and monitored the crowds, managing the flow of the pedestrians to open spaces, and taking measured action as required
  • On Friday night, two Virginia Beach police officers were assaulted while effecting arrests. Fortunately, neither officer required hospitalization. The suspects in both cases were charged with assault on a law enforcement officer
  • Unfortunately, on Saturday night, there were two shooting incidents; in the first, four individuals sustained minor injuries and in the second, an individual discharged shots into the air

It was so disheartening to see the amount of destruction on the boardwalk this year, from overturned trash cans to trampled landscaping. Public Works crews are working diligently to restore the beauty of our boardwalk and beaches by removing the discarded trash, and we expect to have things restored by the end of today (Monday).

Understandably, residents are expressing concerns about what this one unsanctioned event is doing to the reputation and physical appearance of our great city. While we assess the weekend and what actions to take moving forward, it is critically important that we not allow one weekend to take away from what Virginia Beach is: a safe, clean and beautiful place where families live and visit. 

Dave Hansen, City Manager