Chasing Rainbows with Wasatch County
Two Emery County deputies were given the assignment to help out with the rainbow gathering in Wasatch County. Although not a pleasant experience the two feel they have learned some good lessons should the rainbow group ever come to Emery County. According to Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk this came very close to happening as the county was being considered and rainbow representatives visited the county. They were looking at the Joe's valley area.
Deputies Boe Minchey and Tyson Huntington rode along with Wasatch County deputies. They were there for three days and stayed in the Emery County command post at the sheriffs office in Heber. It was a 40 minute drive from Heber to the gathering.
There were 50 officers a day that worked their way through the rainbow campsites. Officers from state agencies as well as federal helped out. The forest service sent officers from around the country to the gathering. There was a welcome station at the entrance. Huntington said the gathering was to promote peace and love and everywhere they went the rainbows called out lovin ya. So Huntington and Minchey called it right back at them. The officers left two deputies guarding the cars while the other officers walked through the camps.
On the walkthroughs drug dogs went along with the officers. There were so many different odors the dogs were often overwhelmed. The rainbows also had several dogs throughout their camp. There were approximately 8,000 rainbows in all. The camps spanned about four miles. There were numerous drug arrests. There was a stabbing. One man stole a purse from a lady at the Walgreen parking lot in Heber. There was one assault on an officer.
Huntington said the event was super hard on Wasatch County. The rainbows said since 1972 when they first began gathering this was the largest show of law enforcement they had ever seen. They doubted they would come back to Utah.
The event was so hard on Wasatch County the sheriff declared a state of emergency. It drained their budget paying the extra overtime. The forest service will help out with expenses.
Huntington said there were very aggressive pan handlers that went down into the towns. They would harass people and follow them begging for money and wouldn't stop until the towns people gave them some money.
As the officers walked through the camps a rainbow would accompany the officers. They would call out six-up to the camps. If a dog was present they would call out six-up, K9. If there were mounted officers they would call out six-up, giddy-up. There were four mounted officers at the event.
July 4 was the big day of celebration when they celebrated peace, love, mother earth and the mountains as a place of sanctuary. They had prayer and drum circles. Minchey and Huntington thought that Wasatch County handled the situation quite well. They offered to bring in porta-potties, but the rainbows refused preferring a trench as a bathroom facility.
The officers were treated so good by Wasatch County. They were well fed and the other officers invited the visiting officers home for dinner. Huntington said he learned that you can influence a gathering that big and have it remain as safe as possible.
Minchey said that Wasatch County had a separate dispatch set-up for a command station just for calls relating to the rainbows. There was no internet service at the site of the gathering. All driver's licenses and other matters were taken care of by the dispatch. They did a good job.
Minchey said, "The law enforcement was not aggressive. They weren't there to be mean and make arrests, but we were there to let them know we would take care of business. The camps were really spread out."
After three days at the camp, the deputies were ready to come home, they learned from the experience, but hope they don't have to do it again any time soon.