Salt Lake police sent an important message last weekend - that teenagers are not going to have free reign cruising State Street. Those who violate curfew, trespass, vandalize property, commit alcohol-related offenses and are disorderly, will not be tolerated.

That's the way it should be. Teenagers have no business congregating at late hours to commit mayhem. Yet, as shown by the almost 200 arrests last weekend, they obviously do. And they will continue to do so unless there are strong preventive measures.Salt Lake police need to continue - as they have indicated they will - patrolling State Street in order to keep things under control. As they have noted, teenagers hanging out in State Street parking lots late at night often get into all kinds of trouble. They vandalize, fight and engage in other types of illegal activity. Last Friday night, police even found one carload of teenagers passing around a loaded gun.

The police merit wholehearted support in continuing their efforts to keep State Street and other streets safe. They need to have the resources to continue their late-night patrols on a frequent basis.

We hope teenagers will see that vandalism and other violations are not only stupid but illegal and may very well end with an arrest or worse.

This is not to say teenagers shouldn't have fun, which may include cruising, an American cultural oddity that has been romanticized in movies such as "American Graffiti." But they must do so without breaking the law. Those who break it must be held accountable.

As usual, only a minority of those involved are the ones causing the problem. They're the ones who leave trash - forcing business owners into a massive cleanup operation - and vandalize property. Business owners deserve better.

While police patrols are one way to take care of the problem, the ideal solution would be for parents to see to it their children do not put themselves in lawbreaking situations. They need to understand what their children are doing and then impose the proper restrictions.

If that happened, the job of the police would be much easier. Far fewer patrols would be needed, which would suit both the police and the teenagers. Until then, police should do what they have to in order to make State Street safe, and that includes frequent and random sweeps like the one last weekend.