Drones, traffic and alcohol issues keep Park City police busy during Sundance

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 24, 2015

PARK CITY, Utah – It was night three of the Sundance Film Festival, and Friday night turned out to be one of the busiest nights on record for the Park City Police Department, which received more than 100 calls in a matter of hours.

Each year, Park City PD does it’s best to prepare for the large crowds that pour in for the annual film festival, which draws thousands of people from all over the country. Capt. Phil Kirk, Park City Police Department, said they rely on other agencies to meet the extra workload brought on by the festival.

“We’ve got a lot of assistance from outside agencies to help us because we’re a relatively small agency, and it’s a big event for us,” he said.

Friday night was one of the busiest in terms of calls into emergency dispatch.

“It’s hard to say for the festival if it’s bigger than previous years, but certainly our call load--we got up to 100 calls in just one shift,” Kirk said.

The shift with the most calls was from about 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Kirk said most of the calls were dealing with traffic related issues, like minor accidents or public intoxication.

“For the most part, people were very well-behaved, but when we get towards late at night sometimes massive quantities of alcohol will cause people to do stupid things,” Kirk said.

But the calls weren’t all traffic and alcohol related. Police also got reports of drones in the area, and it turns out that a Salt Lake City-based company was responsible.

“I think we got up for about 30 seconds before they shut us down; they were on it pretty quick,” said Shawn Rowoland of Drones Etc.

Rowland and John Baird own Drones Etc., and Friday night their goal was to start a new trend: The drone selfie. But police shut them down.

Rowland said they wanted to offer, “Something new and different, a new way to see Sundance.”

Police said regulations on drones are still pretty fuzzy, but on public property they become a threat to public safety.

“One is that we’re not sure how well-trained the person operating it is, and flying it into large crowds of people: that could be dangerous, “ Kirk said.

The guys at Drones Etc. said they understand the concern, and they said they're finding ways to comply.

“We just did an interview with Kevin Bacon, we literally stood on top of our car holding the non-flying drone above my head to imitate the drone, so we’ll just do that until more rules come out,” Baird said.

The company was not cited for flying the drone.

For up to date information on traffic and public transit options in Park City during Sundance, follow PC PD on Twitter and visit the city’s website.