Chesterton Tribune



130 citations and 700 warnings have been issued in beach crackdown

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Local law enforcement agencies have issued hundreds of citations and warnings since they agreed to help police beachgoers at the Indiana Dunes State and National parks.

Law enforcement agencies across north Porter County, and the Indiana State Police, agreed to help patrol the beaches at a June 17 meeting since Chicago beaches being closed in a COVID-19 precaution appears to be fueling an influx of visitors from Illinois. Indiana Dunes National Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz reported in a June 11 Chesterton Tribune story that daily visitation, even on weekdays, has often been on par with large holidays since the weather turned. Some bad behavior has also followed the crowds, he said then.

Wednesday morning, Labovitz was reporting some preliminary numbers on how many citations have been given out. “130 citations were issued since other departments started helping. They included minor in possession of alcohol, possession of drugs, driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, providing false information, littering, and possession of fireworks. And over 700 warnings,” he said.

Labovitz said he thinks the word hasn’t fully gotten out yet that police are watching the beaches, but the situation is improving. “I’m not sure if it’s slowed down yet, but we’re putting a dent in it. I’d say it’s better,’ he said. “We still have occasional large groups of 20 year-olds late in the day who get drunk and are fighting. We will keep at it until the issue is resolved.”

Labovitz said he recently saw Ogden Dunes police giving out citations in one such large group of underage young adults, and, “They seemed to think it was cool they were being hassled by police.”

Labovitz said, though “99.9 percent of visitors are being great and enjoying the beach”, it disappoints him to see visitors with such cavalier attitudes. “One young lady said she was going to put that citation on her wall. That was about a $300 ticket, and her face changed a little bit when she found that out,” he said.

Visitors who are 21 and older are permitted to have alcohol in the National Park, as of a rule change three years ago, Labovitz clarified. The current problem is underage drinking, and visitors who are of age haven’t caused significant problems since the rule change, he said.

Nothing has been “uncontrollable”, according to Labovitz, but he suggested visitors who expect more tranquility plan their visits for earlier in the day. “Earlier is better than later. Later in the day, people have been out in the heat all day and maybe had some drinks. Fuses are shorter.”

Meanwhile, Porter Police Chief Jamie Spanier reported the Indiana State Police presence at Porter Beach has been helping things go smoother. An extra PPD officer has also been assigned to handle traffic and beachgoers for Friday and Saturday this upcoming holiday weekend. “We’re paying two extra guys,” Spanier said.

Often, PPD officers will get stuck handling traffic issues or struggle to balance taking calls from within Town and the beach during the busy season, Spanier said, but ISP have been patrolling the beach and have even offered to help with traffic.

Spanier said there’s been a definite difference in behavior since ISP started helping. “They’ve helped the beach be a lot calmer. With them we’re able to be proactive rather than reactive at the beach.”



Posted 7/1/2020




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