An increased police presence appears to have tamped down on alcohol-related problems earlier this month in the 1200 block of Oread Avenue, site of The Oread Hotel and the bars and nightclubs it houses.
From Dec. 5 through Dec. 8, police arrested five men between 18 and 24 years old during a particularly active weekend during which Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman, recalled a significant number of alcohol-related problems being reported by area residents and officers on patrol.
The activity drew the ire of neighbors, including the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority at 1100 Indiana St. Jill Harter, a national Alpha Gamma Delta spokeswoman, confirmed that the sorority’s Lawrence chapter had contacted police but said the sorority preferred not to comment.
But the sorority was not the only complaining neighbor, and the calls to police did not go unnoticed.
“Any time we see a significant increase in activity we put our resources in that area,” McKinley said. “Sometimes the presence of officers deters criminal activity. You see a patrol car and you decide not to punch each other in the nose. Other times, not so much.”
The spate of offenses earlier this month included unlawful use of a driver’s license, public alcohol consumption, consumption by a minor and criminal trespassing.
In addition to an increased police presence Thursdays through Saturdays, McKinley said police have also encouraged a dialogue between the sorority — and any other concerned neighbors — and the Oread hotel, which houses establishments including The Cave nightclub and a bar and restaurant called the Bird Dog Bar.
Nancy Longhurst is the general manager of The Oread Hotel, which has been open since 2010. In a recent interview, she said that she has not heard directly from nearby concerned residents.
“But I’d be more than happy to talk to anybody at anytime,” Longhurst said.
Cave manager Phil Ozorkiewicz, meanwhile, could not be reached for comment.
Khatib said the proximity of The Oread’s bars to residences could also be cause for more police calls versus a bar located next to another bar downtown.
"The simple answer is yeah, we are spending a lot more time there," Khatib said. "The residents have called us and let us know they're not satisfied."
In response, and in addition to increased patrols, Khatib said he has met with Oread leadership to discuss concerns about bar activity in the area of their businesses. "They've been very cooperative and understanding of what we're doing and why we're there," he said.