March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day Crowds Will Keep Sacramento Police Busy

SACRAMENTO -- There will be plenty of basketball, booze and food downtown this weekend.

Large crowds are expected all day Friday with four NCAA Tournament games starting at 11 a.m. at the Golden 1 Center and plenty of St. Patrick's Day celebrations going on at local Irish pubs.

"It's going to be mellow," joked UCLA fan Joel Crawford. "Just three boilermakers, maybe four, then straight into the games."

All kidding aside, this weekend is expected to bring a $5 million economic impact to the city. That's great for all the restaurants and hotels downtown, but it's a huge task for police to keep everyone safe.

But as the crowds exit the arena or local pubs the Sacramento Police Department will be watching it all through their real-time crime center that allows staff to monitor computers and cameras aimed at the crowds, then relay that information to officers on the ground.

"It's kind of like a force-multiplier for us," explained Sgt. Bryce Heinlein. "We do have a mapping system to show where the calls are pending, or where calls or our officers are based on GPS coordinates."

Heinlein said the department is both ready and fully staffed for the weekend. Much like Uber and Lyft drivers, who are being guaranteed a big pay-day just for working this weekend.

"Oh boy, I'm going to be able to go on vacation as soon as this weekend is done," said Lyft driver Greg Jefferson.

The action starts early at both the Irish pubs and the Golden 1 Center Friday. Most pubs open by 9 a.m., while the first game at the arena tips off at 11 a.m.