The debacle that ensued after October's First Friday, while sad, is not indicative of a problem of great magnitude. There exists a relatively simple set of solutions. Enforcement of current ordinances (e.g. the under-18 curfew) would be a better route than any knee-jerk response.
Other municipalities in Georgia deal with similar events and are able to cope with the crowds - the good as well as the bad. Statesboro is able to cope with the "Players' Ball" festival. Savannah copes with the St. Patrick's Day parade and "Orange Crush" festivities and the Buckhead section of Atlanta deals with similar activities every Friday and Saturday evenings.
I will admit that I am not privy to the aspects of law enforcement. However, I believe the number of officers present during and after First Friday is adequate. The utilization and placement of these officers might warrant further considerations and modifications. The problems that have occurred recently can be easily rectified. It is far better to be pro-active than reactive.
First and foremost, officers need to be highly visible. This would include both "beat-style" foot patrols, as well as the vehicular type. Effective placement at points where congregation is likely to occur would be prudent. This alone would act as a visual deterrent.
Thought should be given toward "random" safety (seat belt) checkpoints at varying intersections, thus discouraging any underage drinking for fear of being discovered.
The above modifications could be executed tactfully and efficiently and remain cost-effective. This would be a better alternative than a Gestapo-type lock-down that would treat law-abiding thirtysomethings (like myself) the same as delinquent, baggy-clad juveniles.
Emanuel O'Neal Jr., Martinez, Ga.
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