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LAPD: Hollywood 'party buses' can get out of control

March 14, 2011 |  7:55 am

Separate shootings and an accident involving "party buses" that cruise around Hollywood, taking passengers to nightclubs, underscore efforts by Los Angeles police to make sure the partying doesn't get out of hand.

LAPD Capt. Bea Girmala of the Hollywood Division said the party buses come from the San Fernando Valley, South Los Angeles, South Bay cities and even from far away as Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In some cases gangs have been involved.

"They literally come from all over. A lot of drinking takes place on these buses before they make it to the door of the venue," Girmala said.

The buses usually come in around 10 or 11 p.m. the trouble starts after midnight with assaults, public drunkenness and other unruly behavior, Girmala said.

Even with 40 additional officers added to patrol the area in 2009, the influx of party buses adds to a taxing environment for the officers.

"I use every single one [of the officers] and we've seen a decrease in crime in that area overall. But drunk people who don't want to listen lead to conflicts," Girmala said. "Liquid courage in these people makes for a difficult situation for police."

Girmala said a task force was formed over the last year to address the growing problems with party buses. She said police have gotten cooperation from many of the club operators who turn away partiers who have engaged in excessive drinking or appear underage.

She said there had been two successful crackdowns on party buses involving the Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City and Inglewood police departments as well as the California Highway Patrol and Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the bus operators.

The first was in October and resulted in about half a dozen vehicles being towed. In November a second operation resulted in about a dozen vehicles being impounded, including buses and limousines, for various violations including occupancy vehicle code violations.

"It sends a very powerful message," Girmala said.

Four people were shot early Sunday after a fight among patrons on a party bus, Officer Karen Rayner said. The suspect remains at large. The shooting occurred shortly after 3 a.m. near Cahuenga Boulevard and Franklin Avenue, she said.

Hours earlier, Namar Burton, 22, of Murrieta was severely injured when he was run over by a party bus, said Sgt. Murrel Pettway of the LAPD's West Traffic Division.

Burton had been a passenger on the bus as it stopped at various clubs, Pettway said. About 11:25 p.m., the bus was driving east on McCadden Place and Burton was trying to catch up so he could reboard.

It was unclear how Burton ended up under the bus, police said.

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-- Andrew Blankstein

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