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Our Opinion: meeting the dunes challenge

February 19, 2002

For the second holiday weekend in a row, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area has seen peace mostly overcome violence and that may mean the plan of law enforcement to maintain order in the dunes is working.

It may mean we will never see another holiday weekend like Thanksgiving 2001.

The local dunes have become a focus of state and national attention following a Thanksgiving weekend in which violence escalated to new levels and one person was shot to death and others were attacked. That cannot occur again, and it appears — at least based on the recent New Year's and Presidents Day weekends — that the trend may have started to shift. Law enforcement may have gained the upper hand and delivered a powerful message of zero tolerance.

During the recent holiday weekend, about 150 officers filled the dunes, trying to make sure the dunes were safe for families to enjoy. Those who would seek to cause problems — most not regular off-roaders — have been finding their way to the dunes and they are bringing violence and idiocy with them. Most are fueled by drugs, alcohol or both.

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That is why it is so important to have adequate law enforcement in the dunes. Officers can take back the area from deviants and dunderheads so that it is safe for those who have no other desire than to have a good time with friends and family in a wonderful natural resource.

We have taken some good first steps and seem to be winning this battle. We cannot let up. There still were cases in which people broke the law over the recent weekend, and as many as 20 were arrested for doing so.

Authorities must continue to provide more than adequate law enforcement on holiday weekends in the dunes. We must continue to show we want our dunes to be a safe and fun place for families and enforce a zero-tolerance policy against all those who think laws don't matter in the dunes or Imperial County.

Those people ruin a fun experience for everybody. That seems to be coming to a stop.

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