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There are legal problems visiting the riverbank after hours
Police Cpl. Matt Deschenes writes a summons for a man accused of having beer bottles along the bank of the Rappahannock River..
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BY LIANA BAYNE
It didn't take Fredericksburg Police Cpl. Matt Deschenes and Officer Nicholas Wagner long to find what they were looking for: evidence that someone had been drinking on river's edge.
The officers scrambled down the rocky bank of the Rappahannock River on a recent warm evening while on a special weekend patrol of the city-owned portion of the riverbank.
Deschenes had spotted an empty beer bottle, a Wawa grocery bag containing the rest of a six-pack of Fat Tire and a set of car keys on a rock near the water.
Along Riverside Drive, not far from where Wagner retrieved the beers and keys, was an unattended white truck. Deschenes tried the key on the truck. It fit.
The truck was parked next to a sign listing city ordinances, including prohibitions against alcohol and glassware on the riverbank.
"I'm not sure why people do what they do," Deschenes said. "They walked right past this sign to get down there."
Two hours later, the truck's owners, a couple in their mid 20s, came looking for the keys.
Deschenes gave the man his keys back. He also handed him two tickets, one for each of the city ordinances the man had broken.
The man said he didn't notice the large signs.
"It's not that big of a deal," he said. "I'm kind of pissed though."
Deschenes showed the couple the city code and let them go.
"He knew he was caught," Deschenes said.
The officer said the incident was typical of what happens in the summer when people have alcohol near the riverbank.
Deschenes and Wagner were part of a special detail assigned to enforce city ordinances along the riverbank.
Deschenes said officers patrol the area every night.
They look for people littering and people who have glass bottles or alcohol. They also look for people who are on the bank after dark, which is also against city law.
Officers made about 60 arrests between last May and early August and a little more than 50 arrests between the same months this year. Nearly half of the arrests involved alcohol.
"I have zero tolerance on the riverbank," Deschenes said. "They break the law, they get charged."
Many of the arrests are initiated not just by patrols but by residents on Riverside Drive who call in about people who seem to be breaking laws.
2011: from May 1
2012: from May 1