The Collegian
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Police patrols meant to prevent drunk driving, ensure safety

The new Area Coordinator of the apartments recently said undercover cops will now be patrolling campus, and may even enter apartments to look for people that are serving alcohol to minors.
The new Area Coordinator of the apartments recently said undercover cops will now be patrolling campus, and may even enter apartments to look for people that are serving alcohol to minors.

During the first few weeks of classes, officials at the University Police Department have increased the number of patrols to prevent alcohol-related illnesses and injury among students.

Contrary to campus rumors that undercover officers perform the patrols, they will be lead by officers in uniform, said Capt. Howard "Buddy" Norton, operations commander of the police department.

"At the beginning of each school year we do special patrols of usually two police officers," he said, "and they are in uniform."

These patrols are usually dispatched in one or two teams, Norton said.

"Their job is to patrol areas where we have had problems in the past, or where problems normally occur, whether it be in the [University Forest Apartment] area or in any of the residence hall areas," he said. "We usually don't go inside the residence halls unless we're needed or called."

In addition to keeping an eye on areas that have been issues in the past, the patrols also determine what areas might be problematic for the coming year, Norton said.

He stressed that the patrols were for students' safety and well-being.

"We certainly don't want anything to happen to our [students]," he said. "We want them to go out and enjoy themselves, but we also want them to return safely."

Along with the walking patrols, police department officials also dispatch a car on Friday and Saturday nights, specifically to prevent driving under the influence, Norton said. The car strictly adheres to campus boundaries.

"I have been here 26 years and I have seen a number of really, really bad accidents involving alcohol and our students," he said.

To further prevent students from driving under the influence, police department officials set up DUI checkpoints a few times per year. One such checkpoint was in place on campus the night of Friday, Aug. 28.

"Everything we do is designed to prevent illness, injury, death," Norton said. "I'd prefer my people did not have any serious complications, you know, that everything went smooth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But it's not going to be that way."

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The police department maintains a good relationship with the Westhampton and Richmond College Dean's Offices, Norton said.

"If we get a person that's violating the law but is cooperative, we try to let the deans handle it," he said.

During the last week, residents of approximately seven apartments have been sanctioned for holding unregistered events with alcohol, said Patrick Benner, associate dean of Richmond College, in an e-mail.

"This number of violations is not unusual as students first move into the apartments and decide to host an event without fully considering the possible repercussions of doing so," he said.

First-time offenders who fail to register parties with alcohol are given a disciplinary warning, fined $50, required to attend an alcohol education course and lose registration privileges for six months. Second-time offenders face similar sanctions, although they are also put on housing probation and could be evicted from university housing. Third-time offenders are evicted from university housing and face possible suspension from the university.

It is likely that apartment residents caught supplying alcohol to people under the age of 21 will be evicted from university housing, in addition to being placed on conduct probation, Benner said in the e-mail, adding that other sanctions could be imposed depending on the severity of the offense.

"Many times [apartment students] will complain to us that they are having problems keeping people out of their apartments," Norton said.

Richmond College senior Alex Cooke agreed.

"It's impossible not to have a big apartment party," he said. "People just keep calling their friends and showing up."

Contact staff writer Guv Callahan at guv.callahan@richmond.edu

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