Drinking arrests increase

The University Police Department used a state grant to step up arrests.

Jerret Raffety

Underage-drinking arrests are increasing, according to the Safety and Security on Campus report for 2004, which the University Police Department released Saturday.

The increased number of arrests are the result of a more aggressive campaign against underage drinking, said Lt. Chuck Miner of the University Police Department.

The police department’s efforts to combat underage drinking were a result of a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The grant allowed for more overtime hours, increased patrols and more officers per shift, Miner said.

The State Patrol administered and organized the efforts, said Gregory Hestness, University police chief and assistant vice president for the Department of Public Saftey. The police are looking specifically for alcohol violations on the East Bank, University Avenue, and, with the cooperation of the Minneapolis Police Department, the Dinkytown and Como neighborhoods.

Motivation for increased enforcement included the 2003 hockey riots, alcohol-related behavior in students on and off campus, and resident complaints, Hestness said.

He also said the correlation between sexual assault and misuse of alcohol contributed to increased enforcement.

The report details statistics about crimes reported on campus and on public property. In addition, the report explains University policies, programs, services, tips on crime prevention and definitions of criminal offenses.

Edward Ehlinger, chairman of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Committee at the University, said his committee found that drinking on campus is down. Based on a random sampling in 2004 of undergraduates ages 18 to 24, consumption of alcohol within the last month is down to 72.4 percent of undergraduates from 74.4 percent in 2003 and 75.4 percent in 2000.

His research also found that high-risk drinking, defined as five drinks or more in one sitting, is down from 41.5 percent of students in 2003, to 36.7 percent this year.

The Safety and Security on Campus report became mandatory since the introduction of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act in 1990, Hestness said. It was named after Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old Lehigh University student who was murdered and raped in her residence hall in 1986. Clery’s parents discovered students had not been told about 38 violent crimes on the Lehigh University campus in the three years before her murder, according to the Security on Campus, Inc. Web site.

They joined with other campus crime victims and persuaded Congress to enact the law, which was originally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990.

“The University Police Department supports a policy of transparency about levels of public safety for students and employees of the ‘U,’ ” Hestness said.

The University Police Department, in conjunction with the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, compiled the report. Other groups that helped include University personnel, such as the dean of students; Housing and Residential Life; Student Judicial Affairs; Aurora Center; and Parking and Transportation Services.

Each group contributed to the report and compiled an annual report of its own, and included violations of the Student Code of Conduct that also violate federal or state laws on campus, said Sharon Dzik, director of Student Judicial Affairs.

These reports allowed the University Police Department to gather these statistics without overlapping incidents, she said.