Wednesday, September 5, 2007
The Sunnyside City Council adopted an ordinance at last week's meeting setting up a special event zone for gatherings and events with more than 100 people.
During this year's Cinco de Mayo celebration the Sunnyside Police Department implemented a special zone covering the downtown and park areas. The effect of this zone created a public park, allowing the police to control attendance by limiting or controlling admittance.
The new ordinance formalizes the police department's initiative.
"We heard a lot of positive feedback from people after Cinco de Mayo," Sunnyside City Attorney Mark Kunkler said. "It's an idea that's really sort of catching on."
He said the city council made the idea an ordinance to give authority to police with a clear chain of command. Also, he said, it gives notice and clarity to the community that this is what's going to happen.
By designating areas a special event zone, those people causing problems can be charged with trespassing. Since the areas will be considered public parks, the city has the right to deny admittance to people.
At this year's Cinco de Mayo celebrations, police were stationed at the entrances to the event. If they saw gang members dressed in their colors, they were stopped.
"The police told them they couldn't come in dressed down in their colors," Kunkler said. "They could come in if they went back home and changed."
Kunkler said some did, but most of them did not.
By adopting the ordinance, the city is hoping to prevent any problems at future events, such as Sunshine Days, Sept. 14-16. If people causing problems refuse to leave, they will be arrested.
"Our primary goal is for the protection of the citizens," Kunkler said. "Our goal is to make it a great event without any criminal conduct. Our people deserve this. The public deserves this protection."