SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL), The sheriff of San Joaquin County says law enforcement prepared for the Hells Angels funeral service for weeks.
Hells Angels Oakland chapter founder Sonny Barger died in June due to cancer; he was being remembered Saturday.
Sheriff Patrick Withrow says they had contingency plans in place if things were to go down due to rival motorcycle club members coming into town.
“I hope that it comes off peacefully. And we have absolutely no use for everything that we’ve prepared for. That would be our best scenario. But we are prepared if it is not,” said Sheriff Withrow.
Law enforcement officers from San Joaquin County met this morning to prepare for the many motorcycle club members coming into town, including rivals of the Hells Angels.
“We’re just hoping that everything goes off the way that they hope it goes off, like they were saying. And that they would keep control of this. But we’re just ready for any contingency,” Withrow said.
The sheriff told FOX40 he would not put any of his deputies inside the 99 Speedway, where the service took place.
“I am not going to put any of our guys in harm’s way. We did make contingency plans that if there was a medical emergency… where they could bring somebody out. And we could respond safely and retrieve that person and get them whatever help they need.”
FOX40’s Rowena Shaddox spoke with a member of the Monterey chapter of Hells Angels. He said they’re not here to cause problems within the community; they’re simply here to pay their respects to Sonny Barger.
Sheriff Withrow says part of the safety concern is any of the bikers lingering in the area at any business and causing problems.
“We want what’s best for our businesses here. Several of them have voiced concerns to us, stating that they might close before the end of this. Just to be safe.”
He says safety measures have cost San Joaquin County alone $400,000.
But says when all is said and done, including the costs to other allied agencies like CHP and Caltrans, the cost will be into the millions – well worth it, if it means everyone stays safe.