Posted: Apr 18, 2012 5:00 AM by AP
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) - Weekend cruising along the streets of Shreveport this time of the year has been a tradition for teens and young adults for decades, but police are cracking down.
Starting recently, a task force of two dozen additional officers began saturating area parks and targeted areas between 4 p.m. and midnight looking for violators.
They are seeing everything from cars with loud music to people riding on the hood of vehicles and hanging out of sunroofs.
Vehicles are creeping down streets in bumper-to-bumper traffic, clogging up roads and blocking entrances to neighborhoods and businesses.
In addition to complaints regarding traffic congestions, authorities receive other reports from residents regarding criminal activity in conjunction with the cruising.
"It's terrible. I usually sit outside when it's warm, but they come by here sometimes on Sundays, and it's frightening out here," said James Moore, who lives in the Mooretown neighborhood. "You see motorcycles racing, cars spinning tires, and these people just driving crazy.
"And you know they have drugs and guns in the cars. It's really scary."
During holidays, summer and area spring break weekends, crowds that once numbered 400 to 600 swelled to more than 1,000 people at times in a one-block area, police said.
The first weekend of the operation, officers made 46 arrests and issued 86 traffic citations. There also was an incident of gunfire at Bilberry Park while officers were on the scene, according to police reports.
During week two, officers made seven felony arrests, nine misdemeanor arrests, issued 77 traffic citations and seized more than 26 grams of suspected marijuana and one firearm.
"We are trying to address any kind of potential problem before it gets out of hand," Cpl. Roy Menefee, with Shreveport Police Department, said on a recent Sunday before hitting the streets. "We have come out on a Sunday, and there were hundreds of vehicle blocking the roads.
"What they don't realize that if someone needs medical attention, we can't get an ambulance down the road. Therefore the paramedics would have to get out and run with the stretcher."
Officers have found several guns in public parks. State laws allow for a person to carry guns with the proper permit; however, a city ordinance prohibits guns in area parks, Menefee said.
"It the beginning, people weren't aware of the ordinance," Menefee said. "But now that they know, we are going to start arresting people who are riding around in the parks with firearms (in their) vehicles."
Menefee said police also are cracking down on motorcyclists who run from police.