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Published: July 22, 2008 09:57 pm ShareThisPrintThis
Maritime festival keeps police busy
By Angeljean Chiaramida
Staff writer

SALISBURY - The first Merrimack River Maritime Festival brought a lot of activity to Salisbury Beach, the organizers of the festival, local businesses and residents.
It also brought a lot of activity to Salisbury's police officers.
"It was busy," Salisbury police Chief David L'Esperance said yesterday. "We towed a lot of cars, and we took a lot of people into protective custody. We had quite a few accidents, too."
Organized by the Salisbury Beach Partnership, last weekend's special event brought three tall-masted sailing ships to Salisbury's river coast for visitations, as well as fireworks, a chowder challenge and beer-tasting venues. The Maritime Festival's intensity was reminiscent of summer weekends of old at Salisbury Beach, when 25 police officers patrolled the center and its bevy of nightclubs and attractions, with the help of special reserve officers and the state police. With a much smaller Police Department these days, Salisbury police still kept up, L'Esperance said.
L'Esperance warned earlier this summer that Salisbury police would be enforcing parking and traffic regulations this summer and during all the special events planned at the beach. He especially cautioned residents and visitors to be mindful of where they park. Those who ignore regulations and park where they shouldn't could come back and find their cars missing because they had been towed. A number of drivers had that experience last weekend.
On Saturday, there was a flourish of towing as drivers tried to squeeze into places they shouldn't - like across private driveways, crosswalks and near hydrants. Salisbury's police log for Saturday listed six cars towed from streets on the beach in about two hours, and there were others throughout the weekend.
A number of small accidents also occurred during the weekend as the roads to and from the beach were clogged with carloads of visitors. L'Esperance said the accidents weren't serious, mostly fender-benders. Fire Chief Rick Souliotis concurred.
By far, the largest number of incidents listed in Salisbury's police log over the weekend relate to intoxicated people being taken into protective custody, which is not an arrest level incident. Fifteen men and women were overnight guests of the Salisbury Police Department Saturday and Sunday.
Protective custody incidents began about 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening and concluded about 2 a.m. Sunday, with those in custody spending the night in the jail cells at Salisbury's Railroad Avenue police station. It's an adventure those involved probably don't want to repeat, L'Esperance said, even though the department bought an air conditioner for its cell area in recent years
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