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Our Opinion: A quiet New Year's

January 03, 2002

We were concerned about this New Year's holiday in Imperial County.

After so much violence in the Imperial Valley Sand Dunes Recreation Area during Thanksgiving, there was reason to be anxious about New Year's.

But it turned out to be a fairly quiet holiday in the dunes. That's not to say it was free of incidents. There were driving under the influence arrests and there were serious accidents, but there were no fatalities and no serious incidents of violence throughout the holiday.

During Thanksgiving there were 190,000 people in the dunes. That's more than the entire population of the Imperial Valley. Such a large crowd squeezed into a ever-shrinking area in the dunes creates a dangerous situation, particularly when without enough law enforcement to patrol the area, as was the case over the Thanksgiving holiday. Over the New Year's holiday there were only about 50,000 people in the area. Those are much safer and saner numbers, particularly because there were more officers in the dunes.

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Lessons were learned from the Thanksgiving debacle, and it is possible we will not see such violence again. What we will see is more law enforcement in the dunes for holiday weekends, more safety controls and perhaps more steps before the next big holiday.

We are sure there were still troublemakers who law enforcement had to deal with, but such idiots make up a small percentage of dunes visitors. Fortunately, most who have fun in the dunes are good people just out to enjoy our natural resource.

We also wish to extend praise to the people of the Imperial Valley who kept the streets of each city and community relatively safe throughout the weekend. Sadly, one fatal accident Friday night in the Superstition Mountains took the life of a 16-year-old Imperial girl. Beyond that, police and the California Highway Patrol reported few incidents on city streets and roadways.

Drinking and driving are dangerous combinations and we did not see much of that this weekend. People did their parts to make sure themselves, their families and friends were safe this holiday.

People need to police themselves and that seemed to be the case this weekend. We hope that kind of thinking continues into the new year, in our dunes and throughout our county.

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