Arrests at Hangout Music Festival 2024 drop again

Posted 5/20/24

It takes a lot of people, manual labor and close monitoring to set up, run and break down a three-day event that brings in over 30,000 people to a half-mile stretch of beach.

Gulf Coast Media …

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Arrests at Hangout Music Festival 2024 drop again


It takes a lot of people, manual labor and close monitoring to set up, run and break down a three-day event that brings in over 30,000 people to a half-mile stretch of beach.

Gulf Coast Media went Tuesday, May 14, to check out the construction and set up and talk with the City of Gulf Shores about their role, along with law enforcement and first responders from the island as well as the FBI and National Homeland Security, in making Hangout one of the safest music festivals of its kind in the country, as perceived by festival organizers and other groups and municipalities involved in the industry.

"We don't want to make people think we don't know it's a huge inconvenience," said Grant Brown, director of Recreation & Cultural Affairs and public information officer for the City of Gulf Shores.

But, he said, the city and its elected officials have to balance that with the quality of life the festival affords the city, its residents and its visitors the other 50 weeks of the year, among other sources of tourism revenue. A 2013 study found Hangout that year produced a $40 million economic impact.

Here are some other facts:

Gulf Shores Police Department and Baldwin County Sheriff's Office made a total of 94 arrests over the three-day festival, 59.6% of whom were male. The most common charge (there were 131 charges total) was for:

  • Unlawful possession of a controlled substance (78), followed by
  • possession of marijuana-second (12);
  • public intoxication (12);
  • possession forged instrument (4);
  • possession of drug paraphernalia (4);
  • disorderly conduct (4);
  • underage possession of alcohol (4);
  • distribution controlled substance (3);
  • criminal trespass-second (2);
  • attempt to elude law enforcement officer (2);
  • doing business without a license (2);
  • tampering with physical evidence (1);
  • resisting arrest (1);
  • warrant-alias (1); and
  • prohibited operation of unmanned aircraft system (1).

Arrests have gone down each year for the last few, with this year's 94 lower than the 107 arrests made in 2023 and 133 in 2022.

GSPD said there were no serious incidents and thanked "federal, state and local law enforcement partners who provided us with the resources to provide a safe event with no serious incidents. The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, Orange Beach Police Department, Foley Police Department, Spanish Fort Police Department, Loxley Police Department, Silverhill Police Department, Coastal Alabama Community College Police Department, State Park Police, Mobile Police Department, Alabama National Guard, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI assisted GSPD during Hangout Music Fest."

Hangout started in 2010 as an effort to show the nation the Gulf Coast would survive the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Acts such as Brad Paisely, Bon Jovi and Jimmy Buffet performed. Brown said the success of the festival over the years has given the city confidence to pursue other tourism-based events that bring revenue to the city, such as the NCAA beach volleyball national championships and other large-scale sports tourism.

The public safety headquarters set up at the festival can press a button that communicates to every stage in the case of a weather or other emergency.

Gulf Shores police and city staff traveled to Las Vegas after the mass shooting on the Strip in 2017 for training and lessons on prevention and situational reactions.

The length of beach that is closed during the festival is around a half-mile.

In addition to local law enforcement from both island departments and the county sheriff's office, the FBI and National Homeland Security have personnel on site and monitoring social media.

Law enforcement uses drones during and especially after the festival to monitor traffic flow in real time so they can send officers to adjust routes as needed.

Public safety headquarters includes a pop-up hospital and jail.

At least 350 police credentials are distributed for the event, and no services are taken from regular jurisdictions. The festival reimburses the city for "well over half a million" to pay for the extra law enforcement, fire, first responders and public works personnel.

The festival employs 600-700 private security personnel.