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The winners and the losers

SHARE The winners and the losers

Winner: Dog parks are becoming all the rage. In Salt Lake City and Taylorsville, fenced, off-leash parks are attracting people whose pooches like to socialize with other dogs while running off all their pent-up energy. Now, city leaders in Sandy are studying whether to erect some parks of their own.

The upkeep is minimal. The dogs love it, and the owners do a good job keeping the parks looking nice. As the Wasatch Front becomes increasing urban, parks like these may not exactly be the cat's meow, but they are a doggoned good idea — no bones about it.

Loser: We're not terribly wild about the idea of police checkpoints along public roads, but the one conducted last weekend in Big Cottonwood Canyon produced some startling, and scary, results. Police cited 51 motorists for things ranging from expired registrations to possession of marijuana and cocaine.

The question is which is more disturbing, a checkpoint reminiscent of an old Soviet-style police state, or the knowledge that so many dangerous people are driving around freely on a holiday weekend.

Loser: Believe it or not, gangs — the traditional Crips and Bloods variety — have hit the Internet. Police say tens of thousands of gang-related Web sites have popped up in recent months. Some of them exist merely to hurl threats at rivals. Others, however, openly recruit members and even allow people to fill out applications on-line. They include chat rooms and message boards, pictures of tatoos and colored clothing that is unique to each gang.

Officials estimate about 720,000 young people belong to gangs nationwide. There is some good news, however. The Web sites make it easier for police to track gang activities and to know when meetings and other "events" are to take place. But the threat to vulnerable, computer-savvy teens with a predilection for gang membership is enormous.