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Police security inadequate

Staff Editorial | Friday, September 12, 2008

&otIn late August, someone broke into the off-campus house of an Observer staff member and stole some valuable items from the home. The staffer called the police. When police arrived, they advised the staffer, who declined to be named for fear of retribution from the police, to ;go to a party, get drunk and get laid.”

There was likely nothing the police could do to help the staffer and his housemates find the person who broke into the home or recover their stolen property. The police officer said he had to patrol a large area by himself and said that was why he was unable to stop any crimes like that break-in from happening.

But if the staffer followed the sage advice of the officer this weekend, he probably won’t find a party to go to. The South Bend Police Department (SBPD) said they will be stepping up patrols this weekend, but not in response to recent burglaries and assaults, rather, to curtail off-campus partying in neighborhoods with a heavy student population. So apparently, the police don’t have the resources to investigate burglaries and assaults that have happened near these neighborhoods, but they do have enough to combat the less-serious shenanigans of college students.

With their increased patrols this weekend, SBPD is hoping to stifle any parties before they get started. But maybe the police could stifle these burglaries and assaults from taking place if they put more resources into investigating past crimes and preventing further crimes.

Maybe the beefed up patrols will reduce the number of burglaries and assaults this weekend, but that isn’t the intent of the heightened security presence. Why is it only necessary to increase security to combat college drinking instead of increasing security for just that – security?

The fall doesn’t only bring the return of students, but football, and with that an influx of law enforcement in the South Bend area in an effort to curb underage drinking.

Underage drinking is illegal. Public intoxication is illegal. But while the police are stepping up their game for football games, they are sidestepping the bigger problem facing students. They may be preventing students from stumbling into games, but they are ignoring student safety on a larger scale.

The state of Indiana Excise Police were specifically created to deal with the enforcement of laws involving alcohol and all that entails. Let the Excise Police deal with underage drinking and public intoxication. They exist so that local police departments can patrol their communities and the problems at hand, and in the case of the SBPD, that’s South Bend and an apparent problem of thefts and assaults.