Playa Safety

Operations of the Playa Safety Council went smoothly in 2005. Meetings were generally well attended, and for the first time since the Council was created, relations between the leading members seemed to feature a sense of ease. Sometimes, so few playa safety issues were outstanding that monthly meetings were canceled!

The Playa Safety Council teamed with the Placement team to address a concern raised by law enforcement (LE) regarding bars in Black Rock City. LE revealed an intention to carefully examine whether minors were being served. A plan for proactive education to event participants was developed, and its implementation yielded terrific results: LE found nothing of concern.

The Nevada State Health Department (NSH) expressed disappointment that the Project organizers did not do more to educate people on their concerns, expectations, and purpose for a presence on the playa. The Playa Safety Council will correct any misunderstanding and improve outreach to the general community in 2006. However, 2005 was the best year ever for informing theme camps about how NSH operates and expectations they must satisfy.

The Playa Safety Council encountered challenges regarding eviction policies, particularly for event staff. The questions arose around policy, standards for staff behavior, triggers and process for staff eviction, departmental jurisdiction, and the role of law enforcement with regard to helping the Project handle the evictions. The Board will closely examine and define the eviction and staff behavior policies for 2006. Application of such requirements for staff members can be delicate to define and communicate, requiring cross-departmental cooperation to ensure due process and equal and fair treatment for all.

Each detailed report within the Playa Safety Council section will give more information about the specific department, but from the Council perspective, a number of noteworthy events were observed. The Gate crew took a less active role in the Senior Staff and post-event retreat process in 2004. This limited involvement left them scrambling a bit as the event approached, but they seemed to make up for the lost time and come out triumphantly on top. New management emerged in the Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV), leading to some changes in the way the department functioned and how it related to other departments. The Emergency Services Department (ESD) had a very smooth year overall. The Black Rock Rangers continue to be the most heavily represented and engaged part of the Council, perhaps because they define a point where many other departments’ needs intersect. Their operations were not without some internal turbulence, but most activities proceeded as smoothly as the past few years have led everyone to expect. The Law Enforcement and Agency Liaison (LEAL) team’s position within the Ranger department continues to evolve and cause the occasional internal stir. They continue to maintain pivotal and excellent relations with event outside law enforcement.

Submitted by:

Harley K. DuBois