Como group funds patrols against parties

Robyn Repya

Last Friday night, Como-area resident Miriam Must watched from the window of her home as a group of male party-goers urinated on her lawn.

And it hasn’t just happened to Must. Parties in the Como area have become so much of a problem for some residents that the Southeast Como Improvement Association is using some of its community money to hire off-duty police. Called “buy-back officers,” they will help implement a zero-tolerance policy for parties beginning today.

Must said she finds bottles and cups strewn in every nearby yard the morning after a party.

“I don’t have much patience for it anymore to tell you the truth,” Must said. “It’s really not tolerable.”

Joan Menken, longtime Como resident and SECIA board member, agrees and is concerned about the direction the neighborhood is going.

To keep the neighborhood heading in what SECIA sees as the right direction, it is using $5,000 of Neighborhood Revitalization Program money to hire extra police officers to patrol the Como neighborhood.

That amount will pay for two buy-back police officers who will work five-hour shifts on select weekends. The buy-back police supplement on-duty officers.

The NRP money comes from the city. Half is earmarked for housing improvements, and communities allocate the other half. Typically, neighborhoods use those dollars to fund park enhancement, community gardens and other improvements.

SECIA notified Como area residents of the zero-tolerance policy with flyers this week.

Ashley Harris, a CLA junior and Como resident, said she is surprised by the zero-tolerance policy.

“I don’t know how many parties we’ll be having now,” Harris said.

Harris said when she has a party she reminds people to be respectful. And she said she doesn’t think parties are unsafe.

She said the police and the money could be better used, and that this action indicates a breakdown in communication between students and SECIA leaders.

“It would be nice if people were communicating with each other before involving police,” Harris said.

SECIA meetings are open to the public.

Second Precinct Lt. Mike Fossum said the buy-back police party patrol has been in the precinct for five years, but it has never been funded by the neighborhood.

Fossum said officers will ticket offenders after one complaint. A party host tagged with a noisy assembly ticket will pay up to a $700 fine, he said.

“We are out to stop the combination of loud music, underage drinking and parties for profit with the large crowd,” Fossum said.

Craig Stoddard, an officer with the crime prevention SAFE unit, said party detail is resource-draining, and the use of buy-back officers will free up on-duty patrols to handle high-priority obligations.

Joe Russell, a 45-year Como resident, said he wants students to enjoy the neighborhood too, but parties are destructive to the area.

“These noisy parties are contributing to the deterioration of the neighborhood,” he said.

 

Robyn Repya covers East Bank neighborhoods and welcomes comments at [email protected]