The Collegian
Monday, November 29, 2021

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Police practice crowd control around the apartments

Because the University Forest Apartments are the main source of parties on campus at the University of Richmond before the fraternity lodges open, a heightened police presence can be seen patrolling the apartments during the first several weeks of the fall semester.

University of Richmond Police Chief Bob Dillard said he assigns officers to appropriately patrol the apartments.

"We don't want the apartments to turn into a fraternity row," he said.

Although Patrick Benner, associate dean for residence life for Richmond College, recognized that this heightened police presence is nothing new, he said seeing police around the apartments helps reiterate to students that there are policies they must abide by for the entire school year.

Underage drinking and drinking in public are the most common offenses committed by those at the apartments, according to Dillard.

"There are a number of people unfamiliar with the laws around here and the university," he said.

The resident assistants play an important role in helping to control the crowds found at the apartments Dillard said. RAs begin training two weeks before the start of classes, learning how to handle alcohol and crowd control situations. The RAs work together with the police, keeping order and providing safety for those who live in and visit the apartments.

"It's not unheard of that police do rounds with the RA staff," Benner said. "They do this so the RAs get comfortable working with the police and the police get comfortable working with the RAs."

But Dillard said he does not want his department to interfere with the work of the RAs as they do their respective jobs.

"We meet with [RAs] and train with them," he said. "There is a system worked out."

Andy Gurka, the area coordinator who lives in and is responsible for the apartments, sees the huge crowds of people congregating in the yards and parking lots in the area.

"They stand in the plots outside the apartments causing driving concerns," Gurka said. "I often have to honk my horn to get their attention when I park."

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The crowd control and heightened police presence during the first weeks of school are not only a policy to curb the number of people at the apartments, but they also protect the residents of the apartments from disruptive people and uninvited guests.

"Students are often looking for action at the apartments," Dillard said. "Students who live in the apartments and want to have parties don't want hordes of people there. They didn't invite them. They don't want them."

Although parties can get out of hand at the apartments, Gurka said a police state is what RAs and campus police are trying to avoid. Residents attend block meetings, during which the RAs lead them through the rules and laws that must be followed.

"They learn how to register and have a responsible party with responsible drinking," Gurka said.

Although there is a greater police presence during the first several weeks of school, the police department plays an active role at the apartments during the entire year.

"We are always in constant communication with [the police]," Benner said.

Although the amount of time of the heightened police presence varies, it usually corresponds with the fraternity row opening and the cooling of the weather.

"People may find out that going to the apartments is not for them," Gurka said. "It might not be the cool thing to do."

Dillard said the weather cooling towards the time of fall break usually lessens the crowds. "There will be less people walking around not knowing what to do," he said.

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