Desert Trip Attendees Abused Handicap Placards More Than Drugs and Alcohol

The extremely well-behaved crowd at Desert Trip
The extremely well-behaved crowd at Desert Trip
Jorgensen Photography/Goldenvoice

For the most part, attendees at weekend one of Desert Trip were a well-behaved lot, according to a spokesman for the Indio Police Department. Police made only 28 arrests all weekend, including just five for public drunkenness and one for drug possession — remarkably low numbers for a three-day festival with over 70,000 attendees per day. (By comparison, 128 attendees were arrested during the first weekend of this year's Coachella Festival.)

A far bigger problem? People using their grandma's disabled parking placard to try to get handicapped parking — even though grandma stayed home.

Indio police, working with investigators from the Department of Motor Vehicles (yes, the DMV has investigators), issued 27 ADA-related citations over the festival's first weekend, including 24 for "unlawful use of a disabled placard." (In other words, displaying the placard when the person for whom it was issued was not in the car.)

"If you come in with a placard, you go through a checkpoint. You can't just flash it. We stop the car and say, 'Hi, how are you today? Whose placard is this?'" explained IPD Sergeant Daniel L. Marshall.

Indio police created a special detail to enforce ADA parking laws earlier this year at Stagecoach, according to Marshall, after receiving complaints about handicap parking spaces filling up too quickly.

But apart from a few ADA scofflaws, Marshall called the crowd's good behavior "unbelievable," especially given that law enforcement at the festival was short-handed after three Palm Springs police officers were shot — two of them fatally — in an unrelated incident on Saturday.

"We lost the entire Palm Springs police department [contingent] that comes out and helps us. They all left," said Marshall. Members of an IPD SWAT team stationed at the festival were also called in to assist with the Palm Springs shootings.

News of the tragedy spread quickly among Desert Trip attendees, who offered condolences and support to officers at the festival, said Marshall. "The guys at the venue told me that constantly people [came] up to them and said, 'We're sorry to hear about what happened.' The outpouring was just amazing."

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On Sunday, an Indio police officer was injured when a festival attendee made an illegal left turn on a nearby road, striking his patrol car. As of Tuesday, Oct. 10, the officer is still in the hospital, but his injuries are "non-life-threatening," according to Marshall.

Weekend two of Desert Trip takes place this weekend, Oct. 14-16, at the same venue with the same lineup. Another 70,000 people per day are expected to attend.

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