Archive for Friday, September 6, 2013

Nearly 200 cited or arrested by special police detail working college party crowds

September 6, 2013


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Police officers talk with a college student in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street early Friday morning. Several officers have been detailed to work downtown and in other party hotspots in an effort to curb dangerous behavior associated with alcohol as a new school year begins at local universities.

Police officers talk with a college student in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street early Friday morning. Several officers have been detailed to work downtown and in other party hotspots in an effort to curb dangerous behavior associated with alcohol as a new school year begins at local universities.

Stats from police detail

Week One, Aug. 14 to Aug. 18:

• Five arrests.

• Eighty-six citations.

Among them were:

• One battery.

• Eighteen consuming alcohol in public.

• Seven use of fake ID.

• Six minors in possession of alcohol.

• Four urinating in public.

• Three DUI.

• Two warrant arrests.

• Two interfering with officers in their duties.

• Several traffic-related incidents such as illegal turns, intoxicated pedestrians in the roadway, crossing against a traffic signal in a hazardous manner or impeding traffic, stop light violations and other vehicle safety equipment violations.

Week Two, Aug. 21 to Aug. 25:

• Nine arrests.

• Ninety-four citations.

Among these were:

• Two batteries.

• Forty-one consuming alcohol in public.

• Ten use of fake ID.

• Four DUI 4.

• Four crossing against a traffic signal, jaywalking, or other hazardous pedestrian behavior.

• Three littering.

• Fifteen minors in possession of alcohol.

• Eight urinating in public.

• One warrant arrest.

• The remainder were traffic related.

By now, many college students have had run-ins with a police detail aimed at curbing dangerous behavior associated with partying.

Not all of them have enjoyed the experience.

Some have been ticketed for consuming alcohol or urinating in public — or both. Others have been arrested for battery or cited for illegally walking into traffic in front of cars on Massachusetts Street. In all, the special detail has cited more than 180 people since Aug.14, for offenses ranging from possession of alcohol by a minor to using a fake ID. Fourteen have been arrested, including several for DUI.

It’s hard to know how much of an impact the new enforcement tactic has had so far, said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman. One night last week, about a half-dozen patrol officers assigned to the downtown area had their hands full at some points but said fewer people were carrying alcohol openly on the streets or “behaving in a way that draws attention to themselves,” compared with mid-August, when the special detail started.

Some Kansas University students resent the new police effort, said Marcus Tetwiler, who has heard talk on campus from his post as student body president. While he supports efforts to keep students safe, he knows some students — rightly or wrongly — feel they are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement.

Trouble, even on a quiet night

Downtown was relatively quiet for much of the Labor Day weekend, with many young people out of town for the holiday. But even on a quiet night, officers saw some early warning signs of trouble and tried to intervene. Some of those interactions were friendly — others less so.

One young man was spotted stumbling west on Eighth Street about midnight, shoeless, clearly inebriated as he argued with someone on the phone and bumped into storefront windows. Officers stopped to talk with him, and let him continue on his way after judging that he was in good enough shape to get home.

A short time later, at the corner of Eighth and Massachusetts streets, officers stopped a group of three young men who had crossed the intersection against the light. It might not have been worth their time, except that one of the men, who had clearly been drinking, had walked in front of a car, causing it to stop, and shouted at the driver, police said. The officers wrote him a citation for crossing illegally, despite his loud and expletive-filled objections.

While that resident appeared unhappy with the police effort, the purpose of the detail is not to interfere with people’s fun, McKinley said. The officers are trying to prevent people, some of whom have had too much to drink, from getting hurt. Police are looking for people walking right into heavy traffic, for fights that are close to escalating into real violence, and late-night muggers who prey on those tipsy partygoers who aren't prepared to defend themselves.

In some cases, the officers are called to break up altercations that are unfortunate but commonplace. In others, events are so strange that they can only be explained by drunkenness.

Take the case of a young man and woman who were assaulted while walking home from a bar on the evening of Aug. 27, for example. As the two made their way home in central Lawrence, two unknown individuals appeared and made a “sexually explicit” remark about the young woman. The young man objected, and was beaten by the two individuals, who punched him in the face multiple times. Police assigned to the downtown area responded, the subjects fled, and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical workers treated the young man for minor injuries.

The week before, officers responded to a bizarre assault near Ninth and Illinois streets, where a 22-year-old man was arrested for allegedly attacking a group of foreign exchange students with a length of bamboo. The students were walking east on Ninth Street, according to police, when a man who was "cackling" and menacing them with a “bamboo staff, similar in length to a pool cue,” confronted them. The man allegedly chased the students for two blocks before giving up. Officers later found him behind a downtown pizza restaurant, still in possession bamboo stick, and arrested him on suspicion of aggravated assault and consuming alcohol in public.

When to watch out

Lawrence is certainly not unique among college towns in seeking an answer to public safety problems rooted in alcohol, as both police and student leaders point out. In Tempe, Ariz., 857 people were cited or arrested near the Arizona State University campus by the Tempe Police Department's "Safe and Sober" task force after just a week of classes this year, according to the local television station CBS 5.

In Lawrence, police plan to continue assigning extra officers downtown and other possible trouble spots to patrol on foot, on bicycles, and in patrol cars, for at least the next few weeks, McKinley said. Police haven’t said how long the detail will be in force, but it is not a permanent unit.

“I believe with some consistency over the next few weeks many will have a clear understanding of what the community expects of their behavior and how violations related to safety and reckless use of alcohol will be addressed,” McKinley said.

Meanwhile, word about the police presence downtown and in other party spots has gotten around campus and there have been complaints, said Tetwiler, the student body president. Some feel as if the student population is being stereotyped as irresponsible. Others suspect the tickets are a way to raise revenue for the city. "That's the pulse that I sense," Tetwiler said. "They are an easy target for fines and citations."

For his part, Tetwiler said he respected the good intentions of officers and hoped that they would try to be objective about their enforcement efforts without singling anyone out unfairly. It was hard to dispute, he said, that alcohol frequently gets people into trouble and students are no exception.

"Safety, even from ourselves, is important," he said. "But students don't want to be thought of as easy money, either."

McKinley said the effort is not about money, but about safety. Both police and student leaders point out that college students hardly have a monopoly on drinking and rowdiness in Lawrence, and not all of the people cited by the special detail are students. Even so, police say, they still believe they have a message to deliver to the influx young people just arriving in town: Lawrence is not a Bourbon Street-style environment, where anything goes.

Police have declined to say exactly how many officers are involved in the detail, or when and where they are posted. But some observations in August determined that the detail is most active in downtown Lawrence in the evenings, from Thursday to Saturday night, and typically involves about six officers.

The officers were made available through a reshuffling of the regular patrol schedule, McKinley said. The seasonal effort is designed to not require overtime, and some of the officers on the detail are inevitably pulled from their posts downtown to handle emergency situations elsewhere.


riverdrifter 4 years, 9 months ago

"I love a drink, but I never encouraged drunkenness by harping on its alleged funny side."

-Mark Twain

jonas_opines 4 years, 9 months ago

"It’s hard to know how much of an impact the new enforcement tactic has had so far, said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman."

No, it's really not. You have many years of these tactics to compare to, and the amount of long term impact has always been quite clear.

There is no impact.

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

How many fight have the stopped? That's no impact? If the fight had continued, someone might have been killed. How many people did they keep from driving drunk? That's no impact? Are they going to keep young people from doing stupid things? No, but they might save a some, so they get to be old enough to know better.

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

Not to mention the stupid flashing light!

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

First amendment violation. Why do so many of you hate the constitution?

msezdsit 4 years, 9 months ago

Hallelujah!!! Crack down on those infidels. Pesky kids. Maybe its not to late for them to go to school in a town that doesn't have a police state. And just think of all the other, even sometimes law-abiding citizens, who got caught up in this fish net. Wonder if they kept records on how many of these criminals took the tag of their mattresses.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

"Forty-one consuming alcohol in public" -

IF one is out and about is there any other way to consume alcohol other than being public? Then again sometimes the city commission provides "permission" depending on the event.

When the Jayhawks win certain basketball games this consuming alcohol in public gets a blind eye...... or so it appears. Then again so does damage to private property such as cars.

Lawrence does not want to known as discriminating.

Dan Blomgren 4 years, 9 months ago

Last weekend at the Buster festival the city allowed consumption as well.

Michael Capra 4 years, 9 months ago

at 266.00 a ticket 53,200 to the city wow and there even nailing them in front of there houses on sidewalk thought home owner owned sidewalk,so what are they going to do on game day another 53000 its all about the money

Food_for_Thought 4 years, 9 months ago

Sidewalks are owned by the City. Think about it. That's also why you can be fined for not shoveling it when there's snow. Educate yourself.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

Actually, I believe that they're owned by the homeowner, with the city having an easement or "right of way" that allows public use.

If they were owned by the city, there'd be no justification at all for requiring homeowners to maintain them.

Michael Capra 4 years, 9 months ago

city owns from curb to sidewalk call easement educate yourself

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

We were discussing sidewalks, not the distance from the curb to the sidewalk.

And easements are agreements that allow cities and other entities to use land, they don't confer ownership of that land to them.

gccs14r 4 years, 9 months ago

I had my lot surveyed last year. My front pins are about 16' back from the curb line, so the city actually owns about a third of my front yard.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

I was told the easement is measured from the center of the street, not the curb. I know my pins are exactly at my property line (why permanently mark anything else?). Maybe it's a difference in code or something.

gccs14r 4 years, 9 months ago

What I'm saying is that my pins are marking my property line and that they're many feet back from the curb, much less the street centerline. I think some older plats had the property line at the centerline of the street and the city gets an easement from that, but in my case the city owns the street and a fair bit on either side, no easement required.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

That stinks. I bet they still make you cut the grass on their part of the land don't they?

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago


That's odd, and I think unusual. Generally cities just use easements, and the homeowner still owns the property. When that's the case, it provides support for their requirement that homeowners are responsible for maintenance of sidewalks.

You might have some sort of argument that if the city owns your sidewalk and part of your yard, that they should maintain those rather than you. It's a bit of a bizarre situation.

Joe Hyde 4 years, 9 months ago

Just a couple days ago, I was easing north on Mass. St. doing a little over 15mph, which lets you get green lights on all the intersection traffic signals. Suddenly a young man and woman, who both looked to be college age, stepped from behind parked cars and walked dead in front of me not 20 feet ahead. There's no doubt in my mind that if I'd been looking left or right when this occurred I'd have hit both of them, knocked them down and maybe rolled over their bodies before I could get stopped. It just scared the hell out of me.

The girl, instead of expressing surprise or embarrassment, only glanced left and gave me a disapproving look as if to say, "What?"...then they both proceeded into the southbound lane and did the exact same thing to a startled driver there.

One of these days it might dawn on those two arrogant dummies -- and anybody else, student or not, who thinks they can do any damn thing they like downtown -- that the police are only trying to help them survive to a fine old age.

alm77 4 years, 9 months ago

This exact thing happened to me at 7PM last night. But there were about 8 of them (which is probably the only reason I did see them) and they crossed diagonally down the street and never even saw me. They were looking around at all the shops. I rolled down my window and yelled at them. They apologized (I think).

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

I know what you mean. There are crosswalks and corners just feet from any parking space. They are young. Why are they too lazy to walk a few feet? But my husband and I went to a KC sporting game last Sat. and we were waiting at a red light to cross the street. A group of boys and their dads came up and just crossed against the red. One woman shouted "Way to get your kids killed." I yelled "Way to teach your kids to obey traffic laws". So maybe these kids just have had lousy parents.

jesse499 4 years, 9 months ago

Tell me again why we should go down town.

Joe Berns 4 years, 9 months ago

I can't think of a reason. Nothing but dirty hippies and "the scene" which, if you aren't in college, doesn't really matter.

Beth Ennis 4 years, 9 months ago

I love downtown. These incidents are high right now only because school has just started, and to be truthful, I'm not usually downtown late at night anyway. Downtown is a great area, and I have no issues with it during normal business hours. I enjoy the final friday evenings, the jazz haus occasionally and many other things.

leonardpike 4 years, 9 months ago

What about closing Mass Street to traffic at 9 pm-ish to 2 am Fri and Sat nights? We could have more outdoor festivities and avoid safety issues. I love Beale street in Memphis. Mass can be similar. It would be great.

kernal 4 years, 9 months ago

No, Mass St. cannot be similar to Beale St. and it ain't gonna happen because the majority of the businesses are retail and offices, not bars and music venues. Don't stop with those ideas though, one of them may just be workable one day.

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 9 months ago

yeah, because those businesses and retail/offices have late hours like 9pm to 2am.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

Good thinking I say.... close it down from 9PM - 2AM or why not 3AM.

GUMnNUTS 4 years, 9 months ago

Ian, what where the results from the sobriety check point a few weeks ago? The KC Star makes the numbers availabe so people can see how effective they can be. How many cars were stopped vs how may citations issued and the location.

gsxr600 4 years, 9 months ago

There is literally a crosswalk every 50ft on Mass street. If only I drove a truck with a grille guard I would happily clean up downtown for the city ;)

gccs14r 4 years, 9 months ago

No, the north-south blocks are 660' long and the crosswalks are halfway, so 330'. That makes the longest distance to a crossing point 165'.

April Fleming 4 years, 9 months ago

Dude, maybe I am getting old, but if you're walking into traffic, fighting, peeing on the streets or walking around with an open container (which they do ignore after big KU games, not enforceable with those numbers), then ticket away.

That said, if you're old enough to be in the bars, you're probably not new to town, so I'm not sure about that as an argument for starting this now.

Robert Wells 4 years, 9 months ago

I can remember when you could buy a beer and go outside and drink on the sidewalk. Great fun indeed! But that has all changed because "want-to-be" tough guys carry guns around with them. Nothing against those who are legal about it. Lawrence has become a OK Corral lately. Stupid people with guns and alcohol dont mix with the rest of us. Families, the unarmed,seniors and inoccent bystanders dont do well in drive-bys and the stray bullet arena. If your not doing anything wrong, why worry about the Police Patrols downtown?

Alceste 4 years, 9 months ago

"...the special detail has cited more than 180 people....." and KU person Marcus Tetwiler dares to suggest his brethren up on Snob Hill "....are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement....."? Incredible.

Keep up the good work LPD.

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

"Some feel as if the student population is being stereotyped as irresponsible. Others suspect the tickets are a way to raise revenue for the city. "That's the pulse that I sense," Tetwiler said. "They are an easy target for fines and citations."

As soon as us 60 year olds start partying and getting drunk in large groups and jaywalking and fighting, you can target us too, OK?

Matt Schwartz 4 years, 9 months ago

"That's the pulse that I sense," Tetwiler said. "They are an easy target for fines and citations." That's right buddy. You've got your finger on the pulse. They are an easy target because they are presenting themselves that way. Being that you are the student body president, I commend you for defending your fellow classmates....but some things are not defendable when they are blatantly breaking the law. Downtown, and the city in general, is for everyone's enjoyment. If you want to act outside of the law, expect to be punished. The law does go around here, lawdog.

Sunny Parker 4 years, 9 months ago

It's certainly not safe for drivers to be anywhere near downtown at 2:00am Fri-Sun. I'm surprised more of those idiots don't get hit by a car!

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