Operation James River RATT: You can still have a beer while tubing

Police say they're not targeting tubers with coolers unless they're doing something dangerous and/or disorderly. Photo: Tom Daly Police say they’re not targeting tubers with coolers unless they’re doing something dangerous and/or disorderly. Photo: Tom Daly

Albemarle County Police announced increased enforcement on the James River this summer, including cops in kayaks, and C-VILLE immediately asked the question on the minds of potential tubers: If I have a beer while floating down the James, am I going to be busted?

“My police officers aren’t going down there to arrest you for having a beer while tubing,” says Captain Greg Jenkins, even though Virginia code does make it illegal to drink in public places.

Operation James River RATT is there to target illegal activities like public intoxication, littering, fights, larcenies from vehicles and in one case last summer, attempted murder, says Jenkins. “Two guys were trying to drown a guy in the river,” he explains. “We’re trying to curb dangerous behavior and educate people.”

Jenkins said last year, his phone started ringing in January with complaints from the river community about aggravated reckless behavior. “They weren’t happy with behavior on the road and on the river,” he says. “Some people I’ve talked to have stopped taking their families down there. We routinely get calls for fights and breaking into cars.” Last July, a man was stabbed in a disorder involving around 50 people.

There can be between 700 and 1,000 people on the river in a day, says Albemarle police spokesperson Carter Johnson. “We don’t want to scare people from going,” she says. “It’s the blatant, obvious violations” police will be targeting.

Says Captain Jenkins, “I guarantee you’re not going to get arrested having a beer on the river—as long as you’re not endangering anyone.”

You can view the Albemarle County Police Department press release here: Operation River RATT