What went right and wrong - during police intervention at the Saturday evening drag races at Bonneville Raceway was discussed by area law officers Tuesday morning in an effort to head off future problems.
West Valley City police called in Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies and officers from other area municipalities Saturday night aftter police arrests for fighting among spectators escalated into a rock- and bottle-throwing attack on police officers.West Valley City Police Chief Dennis Nordfelt said such a meeting is usually held after multi-agency operations. Further talks, both formal and informal, between city officials and the owners of the race track are likely to continue throughout the week to make sure violence is not a part of future races.
Bonneville Raceway and West Valley City officials met formally Monday to decide how to implement proposals to stem the flow of alcohol that contributed to Saturday night's riot after police ordered the raceway closed.
Although both parties disagree over tactics used in controlling the melee, which resulted in nine arrests and several injuries, they did agree that alcohol was a major contributor to the unrest.
"We feel the problem is allowing people to bring the automobiles into their pit area where they can hide alcohol," said track manager Dick Godfrey. "We all agree that that's the problem."
Alcohol cannot be brought into the area privately, but fans go to great lengths to hide liquor in their vehicles anyway, Godfrey said. Fans who park their vehicles in the pit area inside the raceway often drink heavily from their own private supply, he said.
"This (the pit area) is where the first altercation began and we just feel like we can control the alcohol then we've got the problem whipped," Godfrey said.
West Valley City Administrator John Newman met with Godfrey and said the city continues to have a good relationship with the race track.
"I think both Dick and I are in agreement that the problem we're dealing with is those folks that do not come to the race to watch but come there to do some riotous drinking," Newman said.
Godfrey has criticized West Valley police for closing the race, which he said provoked the riot, and expressed his criticism at the Monday meeting.
But both parties stress they are on good terms and will cooperate.
"I guess you can't always agree with one another," Newman said, adding "we've never had a strained relationship."
"I think it (the meeting) strengthened the relationship between the race track and the police department," Godfrey said.
At Saturday's annual Fox Hunt drag race, West Valley police officers were assaulted by fans after making an arrest. Police ordered the race closed but fans refused to leave and pelted police with rocks and bottles for two hours.
Other proposals to curb alcohol consumption include enforcement of stricter regulations for selling beer at the track concession stands and ending beer sales at 9 p.m., Newman said.
"We're going to look at the concessionaires to see if that's contributing to the problem," he said.