University police go on party patrol

The increased patrols will continue every weekend through the semester, police said.

by Kevin Behr

Throwing empty beer bottles from the roof of a house is a good way to attract attention to a rowdy party.

Guests of a house party last Saturday learned that lesson the hard way when University police on party patrol busted the shindig, ending their fun.

Last Friday and Saturday, University police officers broke up nine parties and handed out 176 citations for alcohol-related offenses, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said.

Every weekend this semester, University police will continue these patrols in an effort to crack down on loud, disruptive parties and underage drinking, Buhta said.

The department is trying to set a tone early on in the academic year, University police Lt. Charles Miner said.

“You’re away from mom and dad,” he said. “But you have to act like an adult.”

University police hope the number of large parties and underage drinking will decline as the year progresses because of the party patrol’s efforts, Miner said.

Police take action

Neighborhoods around Minneapolis long have complained about loud parties and their aftermath, such as beer bottles in yards and sometimes property damage, Buhta said.

So four years ago, he said, University police and the Minneapolis Police Department banded together to combat the issue.

University police received a lot of gratitude from neighborhood groups for the work, Miner said.

“A lot of permanent residents are particularly thankful,” he said.

Funding for the party patrols historically came from grants from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Miner said. But just last year, Minneapolis began the Safe City Initiative, a program that provides $4 million of state and city money for 13 agencies in the area to counter specific problems in their jurisdictions, according to the initiative’s plan.

University police use this money to send out overtime patrols to prevent robberies, motor vehicle theft and large parties every Friday and Saturday night, Buhta said.

Offenders pay the price

University police stopped first-year computer engineering student Sean Andrist about 1:30 a.m. Saturday on Washington Avenue Bridge while he was walking home.

“They gave me a breathalyzer (test) and I failed,” he said. “They gave me a ticket and drove me home.”

To avoid paying his $142 citation of alcohol consumption by a minor, Andrist said he enrolled in the Central City Neighborhoods Partnership Restorative Justice Program. He must attend a four-hour discussion about alcohol-related offenses and their impact on the community and complete eight hours of community service, Andrist said.

In exchange for enrolling and completing community service, the offender’s case will be dismissed, said Gena Gerard, executive director of the program.

“It’s a pretty powerful incentive,” she said.

Gerard estimated about half of ticketed individuals participate in the program.

“I guess some people don’t mind having it on their records,” she said.

To avoid being busted while hosting a party, hosts should check IDs at the door and not allow minors to enter, Buhta said. He also encouraged students to get to know neighbors. Party hosts should have neighbors call them before calling the police, he said.

“Just be responsible if you’re going to host a party,” Buhta said.