Summer’s just around the corner. And starting next week, more police officers will be too.
Boosted summer patrol teams made their first appearance over Memorial Day weekend and will begin patrolling full time next week.
Six additional park foot patrolmen and two officers on mountain bikes soon will be making nightly rounds until 12:30 a.m. along Sherman Avenue, Tubbs Hill, Sanders Beach and other park areas.
Four traffic officers also will be on duty watching for hazardous violations and educating drivers about the importance of seat belts and child restraining seats. The park patrol primarily wants to remind citizens of existing laws - no drinking and no dogs in the park, no rollerblades or skateboards downtown between First and Sixth streets, for example.
“We try to be reasonable with people. The purpose of our patrol is to try to modify behavior, not zing somebody,” said Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Jim Greensides.
Each summer, the department hires additional reserve officers to handle increased populations in recreational areas. While Coeur d’Alene parks haven’t been trouble spots in the past, visitors should still use caution, particularly in more remote areas like Tubb’s Hill.
“It always concerns me when people walk or jog alone up there,” Greensides said. “It’s a very secluded place.”
Kootenai County Sheriff Capt. Ben Wolfinger said boaters need to remember that legal alcohol levels will drop July 1 from .10 to .08.
With 18 lakes and 54 miles of river, Kootenai County has the most registered boats and conducts the most boat inspections of any county in Idaho. This summer, there will be 12 additional marine deputies patrolling waterways.
Coeur d’Alene Community Relations Officer Steven Lourenco said he’s encouraging community barbecues and block parties to help residents get to know and recognize their neighbors.
Approximately 50 Coeur d’Alene neighborhoods participate in Block Watch programs.
“Thefts go up generally in the summertime because there’s more opportunity. The garages are open, bicycles are out, windows are open, people are gone on vacation,” he said. “The truth is there’s no better crime prevention tool than a concerned neighbor who’s willing to keep an eye on things.”
The increased seasonal police presence doesn’t mean residents should let down their guard, Lourenco said.
“The old adage is true: There’s never a cop around when you need one,” Lourenco said. “People need to take responsibility for their safety themselves. You can’t hire enough police to take that responsibility away.”
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