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Archive for Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Holding their liquor in Lincoln

Community bands together in unprecedented effort to combat binge drinking

March 9, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated March 9, 2010, 10:50 a.m.

As Kansas University and the Lawrence community grapple with our own drinking problem among students — one that contributed to the deaths of two students last year — we take an in-depth look at what lessons our community can learn from Lincoln its ongoing commitment to curbing alcohol problems.

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Lessons from Lincoln: Consequences

We take a look at how the police force in Lincoln deals with the problem of underage drinking near a college campus. Enlarge video

Wild Party Patrol complaints

Lincoln police say the number of party disturbances they’ve responded to the last several years has gradually decreased. They say it’s a direct result of the Lincoln community’s approach to combating high-risk drinking among college students.

  • 2005: 1,862
  • 2006: 1,813
  • 2007: 1,479
  • 2008: 1,238
  • 2009: 1,061

Source: Lincoln Police Department

Related document

NU Directions Party Patrol ( .PDF )

— As soon as Jason Goodwin gets out of his car and starts walking down O Street, he becomes an instant magnet for inebriated college students wanting to put their arms around him and ask him silly questions.

“Order, maintenance and advice,” the Lincoln police sergeant explained about his typical night on the job.

On a recent Friday night, Goodwin and several other officers played along with the crowd in the two-block bar district in this capital city that is home to University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It’s a routine repeated weekend night after weekend night.

The Lincoln officers’ presence is a reminder that anyone participating in or contributing to illegal drinking activity will be held accountable.

“The climate has changed quite a bit in Lincoln in the past 10 to 12 years,” said Tom Casady, Lincoln police chief. “We’ve had a turnaround that has saved lives.”

The college town environment is different here in Lincoln, as there are rules and serious consequences for just about everything regarding high-risk drinking.

Along with a greater police presence in the bar district, drinking is not allowed on campus or in fraternities and sororities. Landlords and police have cracked down on out-of-control house parties. And bar owners work closely with police to ensure patrons’ safety.

All the efforts have generated an environment in Lincoln that community leaders claim is leading to less binge drinking among college-age students in the city.

Bar checks commonplace

A sound of thumping came from the back room of Woody’s Pub on O Street, where a crowd of older students was passing time throwing bean bags back and forth at a target. In the main bar area, two bartenders tripped over each other while pouring beer after beer, shot after shot, and mixed drink after mixed drink.

Suddenly, officer Ben Seeman walked through the front door in his black police coat with reflective police lettering. In some communities, his presence would be a sure sign that something was wrong or someone was in trouble. But here, the game of Baggo continued and the servers hardly flinched.

In random bar checks that have become commonplace in downtown Lincoln, Seeman was conducting serious business. Officers routinely patrol the inside of the city’s drinking establishments to ensure liquor isn’t being served to anyone who’s underage or someone who’s already intoxicated. If so, the bar can receive a citation, known as a tavern violation.

The frequent bar checks, which occur two to three times a week, keep bar owners on their toes. They know the only way to avoid trouble is by following the rules, checking IDs closely and monitoring how intoxicated their patrons become.

No Animal House here

In the stereotypical Greek culture, a visitor to a fraternity house might expect to be greeted by empty beer or liquor bottles, and sticky floors. But at UNL’s Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house, a soup bowl sitting on a table was about the only thing out of place.

More from Lincoln

Read more about Lincoln's community-wide effort to curb binge drinking.

Fraternity members take pride in the cleanliness of their home and they attribute it to a long-standing rule at UNL. There’s a no-tolerance policy for drinking in the 32 Greek living units that sit in the middle of campus. Even though the houses are privately owned and are on private property, the Greek community has agreed to follow the same alcohol-free policies enforced on campus.

Lincoln Police Sgt. Jason Goodwin jokes with college-age bar-goers as he conducts routine patrols to make sure those already intoxicated aren’t being served additional alcohol.

Lincoln Police Sgt. Jason Goodwin jokes with college-age bar-goers as he conducts routine patrols to make sure those already intoxicated aren’t being served additional alcohol.

Violators can be expelled from school.

“The overall atmosphere, you can tell, is affected by that,” said Matt Pederson, UNL senior and Sigma Phi Epsilon member. “This isn’t an animal house; we’re not ‘those guys.’”

Some fraternity and sorority members in Lincoln simply move their partying elsewhere, but even then they face big risks. Partying in an off-campus rental house can have major consequences, including eviction, fines, jail time and even embarrassment, as the police give violators’ names to the media for public distribution.

Though high-risk drinking hasn’t been eliminated in Lincoln, there are safety mechanisms in place and stiff ramifications for doing so illegally.

Community leaders say their efforts have made a big difference in curbing drinking problems among students and associated crime, including fights, rapes, vandalism, property damage and home invasion robberies.

Officials boast about statistics showing that the binge rate among college students has decreased, from 62 percent of the student body in 1997 to 45 percent in 2008, and the number of wild party complaints has gone down significantly, making neighborhoods safer and residents happier.

“Although we still have plenty of problems, we have been one of the very few places in the country where you’ve seen a reduction in high-risk drinking rates by college-age young people,” Casady said.

Comments

flyin_squirrel 4 years, 4 months ago

This only paints half the picture. House parties are common and a huge problem in Lincoln. Yes they have managed to get people out of the bars but all they did was chase them into the rental houses.

And as far as bar checks go, Lawrence is already doing this on a regular basis, more so than Lincoln.

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Nikki May 4 years, 4 months ago

I don't have any experience with this stuff, but it does say there are consequences for house parties too. And they say the number of complaints have dropped in the last few years. As for bar checks in Lawrence, what happens at them? I know tons of people who get beyond drunk, and I know tons of under aged drinkers.

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Scruggsy 4 years, 4 months ago

So they didn't make the list of top party schools, then?

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flux 4 years, 4 months ago

You can't baby sit the world

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if the city of Lincoln (or Lawrence for that matter) would be interested in implementing S.A.F.E.R. (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) program to enlighten partiers to the safer substance known as cannabis.

www.saferchoice.org

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 4 months ago

Larry says: Lawrence police did roughly 600 bar checks and 70% of those were done on only 6 businesses out of 142 liquor licensed establishments.


are you saying that 420 (600 x .70) bar checks were done on 6 businesses repeatedly? Then you go on to say that it's random. Does not compute.

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parrothead8 4 years, 4 months ago

AreUNorml (anonymous) says… are you saying that 420 (600 x .70) bar checks were done on 6 businesses repeatedly? Then you go on to say that it's random. Does not compute.

Read his post again...the Lawrence Police and the ABC are separate entities, both of whom do bar checks.

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Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 4 months ago

Couldn't you just bring a Designated Drink Buyer with you? That way, there's always a sober person to buy drinks for everyone. Plus, the sober person can drive everyone home!

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sourpuss 4 years, 4 months ago

In countries where people can start to drink at 16 or 18, you see a lot less of this behavior. For one thing, it isn't the glamorous, "grown-up" thing to do. If you binge when you're 18, you're just an alcoholic. Just lower the drinking age and leave people alone. If someone wants to kill himself with alcohol, that is a pity, but it isn't exactly a secret that that could happen.

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CLARKKENT 4 years, 4 months ago

check out the picture, it is a good thing GOD didn't give them more hands.

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Kontum1972 4 years, 4 months ago

i just stay home its cheaper...and u dont have to mess with the drunks....i actually had a drunk lady take a swing at me when i refused to go home with her....way too drunk for me folks.....!

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Kontum1972 4 years, 4 months ago

i just stay home its cheaper...and u dont have to mess with the drunks....i actually had a drunk lady take a swing at me when i refused to go home with her....way too drunk for me folks.....!

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Richard Payton 4 years, 4 months ago

Front page news maybe for Lincoln, NE but not Lawrence,KS. What's the Journal World doing making a huge article about Lincoln, NE.( Are we not in Kansas anymore?).

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labmonkey 4 years, 4 months ago

rtpayton.....

Read the Vanity plate article and take a look at what the #1 plate in Kansas was (Huskers). Kind of pathetic.

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Bud Stagg 4 years, 4 months ago

Lower the drinking age back to 18 and a lot of the binge drinking goes away. I spent a lot more time in bars drinking 3.2% $2 beers than chugging Jack at a house party. The real strategy is education not prohibition.

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jrlii 4 years, 4 months ago

I'm kind of puzzled:

Traditional undergraduate students are 18 -21.

The drinking age is 21.

So how is it that frat houses serving alcohol at parties get away with it?

I'm not sure that things weren't better controlled back when the drinking age was 18.

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K_Verses_The_World 4 years, 4 months ago

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. Proverbs 20:1-3

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suesay 4 years, 4 months ago

AreUNorml (anonymous) says… I wonder if the city of Lincoln (or Lawrence for that matter) would be interested in implementing S.A.F.E.R. (Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation) program to enlighten partiers to the safer substance known as cannabis.

Nebraska is one of the most lax states on being caught with small amounts of pot. When I first moved here, I was a little surprised to be walking past people on O street and smell pot. I guess people just smoke it wherever and figure that it doesn't matter much if they get caught. I think people have already implemented S.A.F.E.R. on their own already.

I also quickly noticed the police presence in the downtown area when I first moved to Lincoln. At 1:00 on Friday night, it's not odd to see 4 police cars parked in the middle of the street and police on foot cruising through the crowds.

And about the kids who want to set up the hotdog/gyro/hamburger stand on Mass street... Lincoln has 2 or 3 different hotdog stands and I've never heard of them getting robbed or having any issues like that. Maybe it's because of the police patrolling the sidewalks.

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ksjhawk503 4 years, 4 months ago

Worst series ever!!!

Make it stop...

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ksjhawk503 4 years, 4 months ago

Worst series ever!!!

Make it stop...

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iamfromlincoln 4 years, 4 months ago

I am from Lincoln, and I have to say that this article is crap. There is still a ton of drinking going on and there is booze in frats more than they would like to think there is. If you want real facts about drinking Lincoln, do not consult the LPD, because they are just pumping you full of crap.

Why don't you ask them about the $1 drinks at most of the main bars, you can literally get drunk for $20, hows that booze problem looking now?

They forgot to mention that DUI's issued were up last year, MIP's were up 200%, and now they want to pass a law that says if you are a minor and caught with alcohol you will get you license taken away!

Don't be fooled Lawrence!

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Lincoln1 4 years, 4 months ago

Larry Native, Lincoln Police bar checks actually outnumber Lawrence PD by about 12 to 1. Lincoln did 7,887 bar checks in 2009. 657 a month.

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Casey_Jones 4 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence does have a drinking problem- drinks are too expensive.

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