Lawrence city commissioners decided Tuesday to tighten city laws to help Kansas University police better enforce the school's policy against carrying or drinking beer or liquor on campus.
Under changes suggested by KU officials, possession or consumption of an open container of cereal malt beverage and liquor would be prohibited by the city in public places at KU, said Dave Corliss, city management analyst.
KU officials strengthened university policy last fall to ban consumption of liquor and cereal malt beverages in public places.
However, KU police had problems enforcing the policy, said David Ambler, KU's vice chancellor for student affairs.
"We do not have an effective means now of enforcing our own policy on cereal malt beverage," Ambler said, "particularly when it occurs in outdoor activities, outside the buildings, or when visitors come to our campus who are not subject to policies of the university."
KU police can enforce city ordinances. The proposed changes in city law would allow KU police to enforce the new laws conforming to the university's policy, Ambler said.
"(The amendments) will simply give our police another tool to help enforce the policy," Ambler said. "This is simply a means for the police when they need it to have more effective enforcement."
CITY LAWS forbidding consumption and possession of cereal malt beverage currently don't cover public areas on the KU campus, Corliss said. Drinking liquor in public areas has been outlawed by the city.
KU officials asked the city to outlaw possession of an open container of liquor "to simplify the enforcement of the ordinance," according to a letter written to City Manager Mike Wildgen by Mary Prewitt, KU's assistant general counsel.
"It is simply more difficult for a police officer to catch an individual in the process of actually consuming than of merely possessing," Prewitt wrote.
Ambler recalled how many students were injured last year during celebrations after sports events.
"Most of that was alcohol- and cereal malt beverage-related injuries," Ambler said. "We have to have some kind of control for that behavior."
AMBLER ALSO said that excessive drinking on Campanile Hill during football games and the resulting disruptive behavior infringed on the rights of families who gather there for picnics.
Commissioner Bob Schumm said he was concerned that visitors to KU for home football games next year might be caught by surprise by the change in law.
"A lot of these people will think of the traditions they've been used to as far as tailgate parties before and after the game and won't be aware of the change," Schumm said.
"We owe the people who come here as our guests, both the city and the university, an explanation to what's going on and some sort of warning, so they won't be suprised if they get some type of citation."
Ambler assured Schumm that the policy would be well publicized.
Commissioners approved drafting a new ordinance that would include the amendments suggested by KU officials.
"I don't think we should stand in the way of university police doing their job," Commissioner Bob Schulte said.