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APD Discusses Alameda Point Sideshow Activity at Chamber Event

The Alameda Chamber and Economic Alliance held a public event at Humble Sea Brewing Company on Thursday, February 15, during which the increasing number of sideshows taking place at Alameda Point was addressed.

Alameda Post - an Alameda Point sideshow. Bystanders watch excitedly and record cars that are performing in a large ring of people by the hangers
An Alameda Point sideshow on January 28, 2024. Still image from video by Richard Bangert.

Alameda Police Department Lieutenant Erik Klaus spoke extensively about APD’s intervention strategies as well as the difficulties involved with policing sideshows.

“From an intervention side, these types of activities are hard to predict for the most part,” Klaus said. “A lot of these events happen for a moment then they get kicked out of the location and head to another location. They decide, ‘Hey, let’s try the base.’ The word ‘base’ itself gets people interested because it’s a big open area. It’s difficult for us to predict those types of fast-moving situations.”



APD often works with neighboring cities to police sideshow activity. Police forces from Oakland, San Leandro, and Emeryville, for example, notify each other when a sideshow takes place or they see something on social media.

One issue for APD when it comes to sideshow intervention is the number of police officers available on a given day.

“As you all know, the chief is doing a great job of getting our numbers up but we’re still a little short,” said Klaus. “Our numbers are getting higher, but we have a limited amount of staffing depending on what time of day it’s occurring, how much information we get, and the time frame we need to prevent it from happening.”

Sometimes California Highway Patrol-Oakland “will come in and give [APD] a hand,” Klaus said. APD also has a continued dialogue with the Oakland Police Department (OPD) concerning strategies and advice for “how to deal with sideshows.”

One strategy for dissuading sideshow participants from setting up at Alameda Point involves beating participants to the location, Klaus said. “A lot of times what we’ve done in the past, when we got information about a sideshow or a large group of vehicles coming into town, we just set up all over the place, we turn our lights on, and we stand there. Nine times out of ten they’ll turn around,” he said. “But it doesn’t always happen.”

Another strategy discussed was traffic stops. “We may sometimes come in and try to make a traffic stop,” said Klaus. “I’d say 50/50 that they stop. We’ll handle it from there. We’ll take a citation, but again that takes a lot of personnel.”

Alameda Point - a huge cloud of smoke surrounds a white SUV at Alameda Point's sideshow
At the January 28, 2024 sideshow, onlookers capture the action as an SUV driver lays into it next to a Monarch Street hangar. Photo Richard Bangert.

Some community members have sent videos of sideshow activity to APD, but Klaus says footage that’s not gathered by APD doesn’t suffice as evidence.

“It’s been brought to our attention that witnesses have sent us videotapes,” he said. “You have to understand, certain criteria have to be met for us to go after an individual. We write a search warrant, you have to identify who the driver is… we’ve tried to send information over and the judge denies it. What they want is firsthand knowledge or visuals from the officer who’s writing the warrant.”

Lieutenant Klaus brought up a concern for law enforcement safety. “I’m sure everybody has seen what’s gone on TV. Whatever city you want to pick out, they’ve had sideshows where groups tend to get really big,” he said. “And we have to think about it from a safety standpoint. We can’t just go in there and park in the middle of it. We’d get surrounded and then we’d have to deal with another issue. They’re complex. They’re hard to deal with.”

Klaus also touched on how APD wants to be mindful of not creating an unsafe situation for the community. “The mere driving around the area doesn’t necessarily signal a crime,” he said. “It’s when they start breaking traction, losing control of the vehicle, driving in a reckless manner, then we can identify that and take enforcement action. You also have to remember what happens when you get behind a car doing something like that. They’re going to just take off. We have to look at it from a safety standpoint for the community. We don’t want to get behind this car and get in a pursuit in traffic, it’s frustrating to see it happen out here. At the end of the day, a life isn’t worth that.”

Currently, the Chamber and APD are working on ideas to best combat sideshow activity, which they will present to City Council.

“This has been going on for a long time, but they’ve been coming out more often,” said Klaus. “We need to step up our game.”

Kelsey Goeres is a contributing writer for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Kelsey-Goeres.

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