Three men were arrested early Sunday morning after officers were called to break up a fight at a private party at the Salt Lake County Fairgrounds.
Murray Police Sgt. Pete Fondaco said four officers went to a building on the fairgrounds that had been rented for a private party and found hundreds of empty beer cans and wine bottles. Consuming alcohol at the fairgrounds, which is adjacent to Murray City Park, is against the law, and the officers ordered the party stopped about 1 a.m., two hours after the park's closing time.Fondaco said police first learned there was a party when a dispatcher received a call from a guest saying children as young as 11 years old were drunk or drinking.
Partygoers said the building had been rented for private use and the police were "invading their privacy" by intruding. A family had rented the hall for the traditional Mexican celebration for a girl on her fifteenth birthday.
Some of the people in the hall, which was filled to overflowing, got out of control, one Murray policeman reported. One of the first officers to respond was assaulted by two men, and another officer called for help over the radio, Fondaco said.
Fondaco said that's when he responded along with 18 cars from Murray police and Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department and five canine units. The dogs were not used, according to Fondaco.
When reporters arrived, the few remaining party guests who appeared intoxicated said they were incensed at the number of units responding to the problem.
Fondaco said officers were responding to a report of 40 people fighting with officers who needed immediate help. Every available unit would automatically heed such a call, he said.
Fondaco said Murray officials have pleaded with the Salt Lake County Fair Board not to rent the fairground buildings without agreement that all laws will be upheld. Fondaco said letters from the city attorney and mayor have apparently been ignored because police face the problem regularly.
Fondaco said he doubts if the rules and park hours are even contained in the rental contract signed by people paying to use the facilities.