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Groton Town Police appear to be taking the right approach in using an ordinance prohibiting the drinking of alcohol in public and at town-sponsored events as way of cracking down on boorish behavior at the popular Esker Point Beach summer concerts.
Town police say that utilizing the ordinance is the best way to assure the Summer SoundWaves Concert Series remains family friendly. If everyone could act with moderation and respect for their fellow concert-goers - and certainly the vast majority of attendees do - police would likely have no problem with folks sipping a cold beer or sharing a bottle of wine as they watch the shows on sultry summer nights. Unfortunately some folks seem to enjoy flaunting their consumption - think 30 packs of beer - and make the experience uncomfortable for others. Police recall having to ask on average a dozen or so people per performance to dial down their behavior during last summer's concerts.
Using the ordinance to assure civic behavior makes sense. If someone is flagrantly boozing it up and posing a nuisance, officers can ask them to return the alcohol to their cars or leave. Groton Town Police Chief Michael Crowley made it clear that the emphasis will be on behavior.
"I'm not having people go around checking everybody's cups, but we're certainly dealing with the open, flagrant beer bottles and wine bottles," he said. As Councilor Bruce Flax said in an interview with a Day reporter, there is a bit of "wink, wink" in the approach.
Some may argue that the fairer policy would be to enforce drunk and disorderly laws, which would allow those acting respectfully to enjoy their beverages, while penalizing only those who get out of hand. The problem with that strategy is that by the time someone has reached the point of disorderly it is too late to prevent the behavior from detracting from the enjoyment of others.
The goal is to continue to make this a wonderful event from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday summer nights, and we are sure it will be.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.