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Police put a lid on alcohol at parks along Sandy River

Alcohol is not allowed at state park beaches; authorities ramp up enforcement

Photo Credit: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Inmates take a lunch break after cleaning up a beach at the Sandy River. A lot of the trash collected was alcohol containers left behind by weekend visitors, they said.Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies and Oregon Liquor Control officers on foot combed parks and beaches along the Sandy River Thursday and Friday, including Dabney State Park and Lewis and Clark State Park, in an effort to enforce state park rules prohibiting alcohol and to crack down on under-age drinking.

“Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office has consistently seen that alcohol is often a factor in both fights and drownings along the Sandy River in the past,” said Sgt. Steve Dangler, spokesman for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies issued eight citations for minor in possession of alcohol and 20 more to people who had alcohol in prohibited areas of a park. One parking citation was issued, and there was one arrest for a probation violation.

Alcohol is prohibited in all park beach areas along the Sandy River downstream of the Sandy River Bridge, Dangler said.

Upstream of the bridge, alcohol is permitted on the river until you reach Dabney State Park. Then park regulations state no alcohol is allowed in the park including the beach, he said.

Dangler said about half of the people police talk with are unaware of the park rules, while others knowingly conceal their booze.

Therefore officers use discretion, he said, before handing out citations to anyone with a beer next to their chair.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, deputies will continue to patrol the park areas along the river on a daily basis, and have planned a few more enforcement missions for August, weather depending.

In 2010, Clackamas County instigated a countywide ban on alcohol in county parks, following near-riot conditions at the ever-popular Barton to Carver river float. The ban includes parks on the Clackamas River and Sandy River.

Last August, commissioners went a step further giving law enforcement the authority to look inside coolers and bags, which officers have said helps keep the intoxication and litter levels down.

Dangler said the reason for missions are more so related to the number of fights officers respond to in and around the parks.

“People getting in arguments with one another on the water and on the beaches is typically alcohol-related,” he said.

Alcohol also can be a factor in drownings, Dangler said. “Alcohol and water does not mix,” he said, but could not readily cite how many drownings on the Sandy River were alcohol-related.

With all the warm weather, police say there are significantly more people making their way to the water to cool off than in years past.

Dangler said people should enjoy themselves, but be safe about it.

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