With summer here, Tacoma police have ramped up weekend patrols along Ruston Way to manage the people and the cars that can often crowd the waterfront boulevard along Commencement Bay.
The goal is to deter misbehavior and keep drivers from cruising back and forth along the road and clogging traffic, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said last week.
“A lot of it is just a presence to head off problems,” Fulghum said. “A lot of families go down there, and a lot of people in general.”
The patrols run between Memorial Day and Labor Day on Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays each year – the times Ruston Way attracts the biggest crowds. Two officers are present from 2-9 p.m.
Patrols had four officers in 2010, but city budget tightening changed that last year. This year the patrols were reduced by 1.5 hours, with the late cutoff shifting from 10:30 p.m. to 9, also because of budget constraints, Fulghum said.
Police arrested 14 people and made 367 traffic stops during the patrols last year, compared with 36 arrests and 597 traffic stops in 2010.
The officers are paid overtime, and their on-duty counterparts can help as needed.
“If something happens, they’re able to be there to assist,” Fulghum said.
The department doesn’t schedule the extra officers when the weather is poor and fewer people are outdoors.
“If the weather is terrible and there’s not expected to be a problem they’ll cancel the patrols,” Fulghum said.
Officers sometimes reroute traffic to make part of the street one way, though that hasn’t been as necessary lately.
“I don’t think they do that as much as they used to,” Fulghum said.
Officers also lock up the parking lot of the Les Davis Pier at night by chaining off the entrance.
“If people are not following the rules, they are dealt with accordingly,” Fulghum said. “We just try to keep it as peaceful and enjoyable as possible.”email@example.com