Irresponsible parents, uncontrolled kids and longer daylight hours are contributing to a host of problems along Kenai Peninsula beaches, according to Kasilof residents and the Alaska State Troopers.
On May 4, troopers responded to reports of gunfire in the Cohoe Loop area of Kasilof. When they arrived in the area, they encountered kids, alcohol and guns. One male juvenile was contacted for attempting to shoot the lock off a gate leading to the beach. He was released to his parents, along with the rest of the young party-goers.
The Alaska State Troopers can't do much more than break up the most unruly of parties. At any given time, only two officers are on patrol in the entire central peninsula area, according to trooper Lt. Tom Bowman.
Bowman said he believes parents have to take a more active role in making sure their kids are safe.
"Parents might not understand where their kids are," Bowman said, adding that parents might not know what kids are really up to down on the beach.
"Quite frankly, what occurs is one or two troopers respond down there and find 50 to 100 kids, well not kids, because there's adults in their 40s along with juveniles down there sometimes," he said. "So you have alcohol, adults and juveniles, kids actually driving mom or dad's vehicle down on the beach and hoping not to get stuck when the tide comes in. It's a dangerous situation from a lot of angles."
Kasilof resident Tracy Miller said she also has a problem with the beach parties. She's lives in the Cohoe Loop area of Kasilof, a popular party destination because of its proximity to the beach. Miller says every year at this time, the beaches and bluffs of Kasilof get trashed by irresponsible teenagers.
"Each year it gets a little bit worse. This is the worst I've seen it," Miller said Thursday.
Miller also believes parents are at least partially to blame. She wants more people to know where their kids are and what they're doing.
"I think they ought to go down (to the beach) and take a look at what their kids are doing," Miller said.
Bowman says residents have a right to be upset.
"Homeowners are concerned because when somebody gets hurt, the parents are going to be looking for someone with deep pockets (to sue)," he said.
Neither Miller nor Bowman thinks anyone should be denied access to the beach. It's just that they'd like to see kids act more responsibly.
"There is no respect down there. You take out what you take in. You pull out your trash, you build your fire below high tide. I really hate to see the cops have to babysit other people's kids," she said.
"The good kids are the ones who are losing out. Kids who just want to sit around the bonfire and talk about their senior year, or whatever," he said. "They can't do that because some jerks mess up everybody's good time."
And as long as unruly revelers continue to litter, vandalize private property and set dangerous fires, the troopers will have to respond. However, Bowman is concerned that it won't be long before something even worse happens as a result of the parties.
"Somebody is going to get hurt. We're going to have a situation that's not good," he said. "We're gonna have bodies on the streets."
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