Grand Haven Department of Public Safety officers soon provided a helping hand, followed quickly by Ottawa County Sheriff deputies and the Michigan State Police.
Still, the number of law enforcement personnel on the scene was woefully outnumbered by the several hundred people involved in the fracas.
We’ve heard complaints that no arrests were made after to the large fight that led to the closing of the state park Monday night and, on the surface, that seems like a valid point.
But in talking to members of responding units, the officers there had one priority — to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. They wanted to avoid the nightmare that took place in South Haven, when an out-of-control throng began assaulting police and put the officers — and the public — at risk.
Our local officers quickly and efficiently cleared the park, making sure those involved in the fights left without allowing the melee to rekindle.
Consider, in a skirmish that involved several hundred people, how would officers know which people to arrest? The more time spent trying to sort out the instigators, the longer everyone is forced to remain in close proximity, and the greater the chance more fights might break out.
Would we like those responsible for Monday’s fight to be punished to the full extent of the law? Of course! We want nothing more than for our beach, and our town, to be a safe place for us to bring our children and our grandkids. We don’t want to have to worry that the next time we head down to the shoreline for a swim, a barbecue, or to watch the sunset, that we might be walking into a hornet’s nest.
But in this situation, we commend our local law enforcement agencies for their quick and decisive action.
We also commend the state park staff for recognizing future threats, with an increased presence at the park on the Fourth of July and plans to take a careful look at future events that could draw larger-than-normal crowds to the park.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Mark Brooky. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to [email protected] or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.