Minors drop due to lack of party patrol

Underage drinking citations went from 76 during the first two school weeks last year, to eight so far this year. No, thatâÄôs not a typo. Area police typically try to crack down on underage drinking before and during the first weeks of school, when new students practice dangerous self-experiments with alcohol, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said. But, because of the man-hours transferred to the Republican National Convention, University and Minneapolis police werenâÄôt able to run their usual party patrol, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said. UMPD handed out 76 underage consumption citations from Aug. 28 to Sept. 16, 2007. But from Aug. 26 to Sept. 7, 2008 âÄî a weekâÄôs difference in time âÄî police gave only eight citations. UMPD provided four officers âÄî the number of its officers usually on the party patrol âÄî for the convention. âÄúThey didnâÄôt have bodies to put on party patrol because everyone was working 12-hour shifts,âÄù Buhta said. The Friday and Saturday late-night party patrol employs up to 28 officers, working overtime for University and Minneapolis police. The patrol hands out three-fourths of all underage consumption citations on campus, Buhta said. One squad car will roam hot spots like Dinkytown and Southeast Como and will call for backup if officers spot underage drinking, Buhta said. Welcome Week might have role Some students believe that Welcome Week may be another reason for the reduction in underage consumption citations. Kyle Johnson , a first-year architecture student, said new students were kept busy until about midnight during Welcome Week. Johnson said that because most of the events were mandatory, he didnâÄôt go to any parties during the week. Thomas Santori , a Welcome Week leader and strategic communications junior, said the activities were created to curb student drinking. âÄú[Students] really didnâÄôt have any choice because Welcome Week went from nine in the morning âÄòtil late in the evening,âÄù he said. Students were kept busy with Coffman Union activities, including comedians, Gophers After Dark events and a night at the University Recreation Center field house with food and inflatable games. Santori said that, in a group as large as the first-year class, some students strayed away, but most stuck around for the events. Johnson said he and most students stuck around for the majority of the events, but some students âÄúhave friends who are older and know placesâÄù to drink. Even though consumption citations dropped with the UMPD, Johnson said he heard the number of underage drinkers documented in the residence halls was still relatively high. These citations are not necessarily registered with the police, but are typically handled by University Housing and Residential Life.