Patrolling strategy at Water Follies

KENNEWICK, Wash. -- It's day two of the 49th Columbia Cup. Police are manning patrols to keep this event safe. Action News look into the most common crimes at Water Follies and how officers are cracking down.

It's an event that attracts thousands. It's an event that attracted its share of rowdy behavior in its earlier years. Tom Gregory has gone to Water Follies for decades. He remembers the wilder days well.

"There were periods where it got a little out of hand, and then but it wasn't a great family atmosphere," said follies goer Tom Gregory.

Tom says he's seen a big change in the park's security with a boost in police patrols over the years. He doesn't think twice about bringing his grandkids to the park.

"It's really toned down. It's really controlled. It's really a good, family place," added Gregory.

Police from all over the Tri-Cities are patrolling the grounds in full force, using bikes and ATV's to get around. About two dozen officers are assigned to the park.

"This is a family event. The more they're out there contacting people, the more visible we are. The more the public thinks there's more of us here than there really is," said Kennewick Police Sergeant Ken Lattin.

Between 2012 and last year, the rough number of police contacts at Water Follies rose by over 50 percent. Those numbers include any conversation with follie goers, whether it's related to criminal activity or not. Over the same period, DUIs in the park stayed relatively steady. Police say it's about knowing where and when to drink.

"There are lots of places to drink legally. The beer gardens. The special viewing areas. Not in the parking lots," said Sgt. Lattin.

Drinking isn't the only concern along the water. Drugs are, too. Smoking marijuana in the park could cost you a $500 fine.

"We had an individual yesterday who's just walking through the park smoking a joint. Well, we had to give him some education," said Sgt. Lattin.

It's all done in effort to keep you and your family safe.