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SBPD steps up patrols for disorderly parties

Kaitlynn Riely | Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The South Bend Police Department (SBPD) will conduct “directed patrols targeting disorderly houses” this weekend due to numerous complaints over the last two weekends about large and loud outdoor parties, Capt. Phil Trent of the SBPD said.

During the first two weekends of the school year, Trent said, neighborhood groups and South Bend residents reported, and South Bend police observed, large and disorderly parties taking place at off campus student houses.

“I’m talking about truly, truly large parties,” Trent said, meaning parties where the doors of the house are open, 100 people are in the front yard, multiple kegs are being used and people are milling around, using the neighbors’ yard as a bathroom.

“That’s what we’re targeting,” he said.

Trent sent an e-mail Tuesday to The Observer, along with other local media, saying the SBPD had received “numerous complaints” about “instances of public intoxication, loud noises and trespassing associated with very large house parties.”

Most of the complaints, the e-mail said, were about houses on the city’s northeast side.

Trent told The Observer the bulk of the calls were made regarding houses on E. Wayne Street, E. Washington Street, St. Louis Street and St. Peter Street.

“The main focus are the large, outdoor parties that have only marginal control over who comes and goes, who’s drinking and who is old enough to be drinking,” Trent said.

These calls are usually associated with Notre Dame students, Trent said, although he added that on some weekends, South Bend residents do have large parties.

With the increased patrols, Trent said, the SBPD “are not trying to be draconian.” Trent said he does not think any tickets associated with off campus parties were issued last weekend.

“On game weekends especially, we are very, very busy, and it’s not our objective to go out and do enforcement when enforcement measures are not specifically warranted,” he said. Instead, he said, police have been advising students having parties of what is regarded to be improper behavior, rather than immediately writing tickets and making arrests, he said.

The increased patrols this weekend, Trent said, are in response to the complaints the department has been receiving.

“Some of these reports were are getting are way beyond the realm of being a good neighbor,’ he said.

If police do encounter a large party, where there are “people screaming, yelling, singing out doors and in the front and back,” or “loud music, underage drinking, public urination,” and littering on the ground around the house, police will first attempt to determine who is responsible for the residence, and will tell them to get the party under control.

“All we are asking for is basic cooperation,” Trent said. “Most of the time, when we deal with students, we have complete cooperation.”

Student body president Bob Reish and vice president Grant Schmidt sent an e-mail to the student body last week asking students to “be considerate to those around us, particularly residents of the South Bend area.”

The news that the SBPD will be stepping up patrols of disorderly houses looks like a “preventative measure,” Reish said.

“Ultimately, we share the same goals, and we are glad the police are going to be out there, hopefully also protecting our students,” Reish said Tuesday. “I think our students will be very cooperative, and I think, at the end of the day, they will realize our students are cooperative when police talk to them.”

The Observer reported Monday that two Notre Dame students were assaulted over the weekend on Notre Dame Ave. near Club 23, receiving minor injuries.

The SBPD will “absolutely” also be continuing neighborhood patrols to protect those walking through South Bend at night, Trent said. With officers dedicated to conduct patrols of disorderly houses, regular beat officers will be free to conduct neighborhood patrols.

The increase in patrols of disorderly houses is not an unusual occurrence, Trent said.

“It usually occurs at some point between the start of the school year and the point at which the football season ends or it gets too cold to have outside parties,” Trent said. “This year, we are going to do it more sooner than later.”