Increased patrols, stings planned around spring break

Local and state law enforcement officers will step up patrols during and after spring break through multiple initiatives, including increased surveillance, drunken driving patrols and fake-ID stings.

With the weeklong break from school beginning Saturday, Lawrence police said they will increase surveillance in off-campus student living areas, which can become popular for criminals during school breaks. Officers will focus on preventing home and car break-ins, said Sgt. Bill Cory, Lawrence police spokesman, but officers also are focused on preventing sexual assaults.

Local and state law enforcement officers have issued safety reminders to Kansas University students ahead of each major break from school ever since a serial rapist last attacked in the city in December 2008. The 13 attacks date back to 2001 and have occurred in the Kansas University and Kansas State University communities while students were on break from school.

Douglas County sheriff’s deputies will conduct a drunken driving saturation patrol the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, which comes Wednesday. The Kansas Highway Patrol said its Breath Alcohol Unit will also be active in multiple communities helping with “zero-tolerance enforcements” that night.

In 2008, six fatal crashes occurred on St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Kansas. Alcohol was involved in three of the crashes. Thirty-five people were injured the same weekend in alcohol-related accidents.

When students return from break, Lawrence Police, Kansas University Police and Douglas County sheriff’s deputies will conduct at least one fake-ID sting, as part of a multiweek crackdown. Authorities say sometimes college students will obtain fake IDs while they’re away on break and attempt to use them illegally when they return to Lawrence.