For years the lower portion of the Caddo River has been a popular attraction for thousands of people, both locals and out-of-towners. But, unfortunately, in recent years an atmosphere of violence and unruly behavior has settled over the river like an early morning fog, leaving many to wonder if that fog will ever lift.
In light of recent events, which include shooting-related incidents and large brawls that have left some hospitalized, local law enforcement agencies are stepping up their game in order cut the fog so the river will again be a place for families and children.
Clark County Sheriff Jason Watson said enough is enough. "This is a family-friendly float route," Watson said. "Families have used this river for years … and we're going to continue to have that. We're not going to allow this type of behavior."
Since the summer began game wardens, sheriff's deputies and city police have initiated river checkpoints and surveillance on the river, keeping an eye on those who disobey the law.
"We're going to have a heavy presence throughout the summer," Watson said.
Asked whether the bulk of the problems are coming from locals or out-of-town visitors, Watson said it's mostly "out-of-town traffic that we've had problems with. … This has been a trend we've seen over the past three years."
But the sheriff doesn't want to block tourists from local adventure and activities. "We have great resources," said the sheriff. "We want you to have a good time, but we also expect you to act in a manner that you know how to act. We're not going to have adults come here and act in this behavior. We're not going to have that."