It was standing room only - for police, that is - as residents celebrated the Fourth of July along city beach and Independence Point.
As the sun set Friday, Coeur d’Alene Police had 44 sworn officers and reserves on foot, on bicycles and in patrol cars, most of them in the downtown area. They were joined by a contingent of Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies, and 20 members of the Idaho State Police Crowd Intervention Team.
“If a city or county officer gets into problems, our team is designed to go in and rescue that officer,” said Tony Anderson a state policeman from Idaho Falls.
That’s exactly the reason this new state unit was asked to join in Coeur d’Alene’s Fourth of July festivities this year. Heavy drinkers and fighters nearly overwhelmed the approximately 40 law enforcement officers trying to keep the peace a year ago.
The litany of incidents back then included police officers getting punched while trying to break up a fight, a stabbing and a drunken driver who nearly ran over several pedestrians.
Problems by early Friday evening seemed more the usual - alcohol violations, possession of illegal fireworks, minors in possession of tobacco.
Between noon and 7 p.m. the state police team had arrested only two men for an alcohol problem. Other agencies had made significantly more arrests downtown, but no official reports were available.
“Their presence has added a lot,” said Couer d’Alene Police Lt. Ron Hotchkiss said of the ISP team.
“A lot of people say they have never seen so many cops down here,” he said. “That’s because there have never been so many cops down here.”
A steady plume of barbecue smoke boiled from the picnic area and watermelon, potato salad and hamburgers were de rigueur. There was a high incidence of sunburn, some of it severe, but the pleasure of being outside in one of the first decent weekends of the summer appeared to dull any pain.
The Coeurd’Alene Resort was doing a brisk business with a drink called the “Deep Six.” Poured into a 32-ounce plastic tub, the concoction carries six shots of everything from rum to a liqueur called orange cuaraco carried in a sea of fruit juices. People were grabbing 3-foot long straws and, as a group, settling in to slurp a communal tub of spirits.
Once they tried to take the tubs back into the park, however, an officer materialized and they were turned back. Even so, the extra enforcement was welcome in the crowd.
“With this many people, you need somebody in case something breaks out,” said John Hostvedt of Spokane.
Buz Arrendondo called the heavy presence of law enforcement “excellent.”
“It looks like they are doing a good job of watching over people who are drinking,” Arrendondo said. “And it looks like they are doing a good job of breaking up the crowds and keeping them moving.”
Outside of Coeur d’Alene, traffic accidents and brush fires kept emergency personnel busy.
A vehicle struck two pedestrians during the morning parade in Sandpoint, police said. The victims were treated at Bonner General Hospital and released.
An early afternoon boat fire on Black Lake east of Lake Coeur d’Alene injured at least one person. The woman was still being treated at the Kootenai Medical Center emergency room late Friday. Her name was not released.
In Washington, two Spokane men remained hospitalized Friday after a head-on collision on Highway 2. And a Pend Oreille County man died late Thursday when his car swerved off state Highway 211.
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