Monday, June 7, 2010

Enjoy the water but please behave

C'mon in; the waters fine.

But please behave yourselves and as always obey the law and think of safety.

Yours and those around you.

Residents, tourists to keep law enforcement busy this summer
By Chris Cobb The Herald-Zeitung

It’s the beginning of a busy three months for the New Braunfels Police Department, as the annual wave of summer visitors is expected to flock to the city’s rivers in droves through Labor Day.

The local police are tasked with keeping order on two of Texas’ most popular summer destinations in the Comal and Guadalupe rivers.

“And we’re pretty much out there every day, in some form or fashion,” NBPD Lt. John Wells said.

In year’s past, the city has sent at least 25 officers to patrol the river on weekends, but now, Wells said the police presence on the rivers is based on need.

Over Memorial Day weekend, he said anywhere from 40 to 50 officers were patrolling the rivers, and they handed out 338 citations and arrested 32 people.

“We’ll probably have a similar amount of officers on the river for the big weekends,” he said.
During the week, the six officers on the NBPD’s Community Response Unit handle the bulk of the river patrolling duties, he said.

They must enforce what in recent years has been a growing number of New Braunfels-specific river laws — governing everything from cooler size and boom box noise levels to making sure there aren’t any beer bongs or Jell-O shots on the river.

He said whether to issue a citation is based on an officer’s judgment, with many people getting a warning if they are breaking the rules for the first time.

“It’s pretty much officer discretion, as we don’t have any real specific guidelines,” he said. “There’s no quota we have to meet, and nobody gets an award for writing the most tickets.

“Public safety is our main concern, and that’s what we focus on.”

Keeping order can be a challenge when thousands of people are tubing in both rivers at once.

He said police were called to a domestic disturbance May 30 that sounded serious when it came across the radio. When officers went to check on it, a knife fight broke out at the tube chute, sending two men to the hospital with stab wounds.

“It can be tough,” he said. “We have to put people where the crowds are, and that ay not be where a crime is being committed. Unfortunately, that’s just what we have to deal with.

“But it all boils down to public safety. We want people to have a good time, enjoy the rivers, and be as safe as possible.”