Skip the bans, hire more law enforcement
Traveling to the Iowa Great Lakes for the Fourth of July weekend has been a tradition for college students for decades. The Okoboji area is an attraction for young and old people alike throughout most of the year, but the Lakes become dominated by youth during the Fourth of July. And, yes, underage drinking, fights and nudity are part of the equation and have been for years.
When a ban was discussed recently that would prevent possession or consumption of alcohol from July 1 through July 5 at the public beaches, an outcry was heard across the plains. This singling out of dates for the ban was wrong, and the Iowa Natural Resource Commission properly voted down the proposal.
If drinking in public beaches is a problem, then ban drinking at all public beaches, all the time. Specific locations and dates should be irrelevant. But that won’t happen. Instead officials will single out locations once again, which will simply move throngs of thongs from one party lake to another. Department of Natural Resource (DNR) officials say the problems have created a safety issue that is keeping families away. So be it. There are plenty of calmer weekends for Mom and Pop to choose from.
The proposed ban would have provided an easy fix, but law enforcement was never intended to be easy. The real answer is in providing authorities with the ability to effectively uphold the law. Having only two DNR law officers dedicated to this area on the Fourth of July is a joke. We all know there is no shortage of tax revenue in that area or police patrolling the surrounding roadways. In short, authorities need to be where the problems are, and they have not been. We have consequences for those who choose to break the law. Bring in more officers to do their jobs. Set up help centers. Limit the number of people allowed at the beach. Pull the DNR boats into the beach areas more frequently. The simple presence of authoritative figures soothes even the most rowdy of crowds.
Officials have been quoted as saying that officers are afraid to go into the beach area. That’s ridiculous. These partiers are not carrying knives or guns. If swimsuit-clad beer drinkers are the biggest fear facing law enforcement in our state, we are very fortunate.
Buck up. CV