Party Patrol System to Curb Excessive Parties

In an effort to mitigate excessive, out-of-control parties in the State College Borough, authorities are attempting a slightly different approach to reduce the problems associated with large parties and improve town and gown relations in the process. The new “party patrol” system will form a unique partnership between State College and Penn State Police and will rely heavily on the cooperation of students hosting parties off campus.

How does a party patrol system differ from a party registration system, like the one successfully implemented at Colorado State University? The mention of a “party patrol” system was first discussed at last week’s UPUA meeting when president T.J. Bard indicated that a “party patrol” unit—not a party registration system—would be used in State College, as reported in Onward State’s coverage of the meeting.

I was able to sit down with State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham to discuss the proposed system and potential for party registration. The party patrol system will signify the first time that there will be a major collaboration between State College and Penn State police, outside of football games.  It is a “really intriguing opportunity,” according to Goreham. Essentially, when police observe a party getting started, they inquire to those hosting beforehand and try to gain an understanding to map out a strategy for keeping the party safe and controllable. Police officers will walk through neighborhoods in an attempt to initiate a partnership with students living off campus.

“Anything that allows us to understand how to organize so people can be ‘trained’ to give a safe party, is a good thing,” Goreham said.

Will this party patrol initiative be successful in State College?  Naturally this is the challenge, but Mayor Goreham and authorities are optimistic.

Now, for party registration. Party registration has been shown to be successful in other college towns, if nothing more than an experimental method for controlling parties by placing more responsibility in the hands of those hosting house parties.

“I believe in that idea of a party registration system is that it provides the best way to stop out-of-control parties, without harming casual parties,” Goreham said.

After an offending party is reported, typically a grace period of 20-30 minutes is granted to allow the party to either drastically calm down or end entirely. The ability for a party to even be able to end itself promptly may serve as a good litmus test to regulate excessive, uncontrollable parties.

The idea of students having an established trust with authorities so that they can issue warnings to parties when complaints are filed rather than busting them, places the responsibility on the students shoulders. But get your hopes up, party planners– because while many believe party registration is a neat idea, including Mayor Goreham, who noted that the concept “potentially holds a lot of merit,” the costs would be too high. Presently, the State College police force simply doesn’t have the administrative capabilities to make a party registration system operate smoothly and would certainly need additional Penn State help. “We may come back to this,” Goreham said.

Also present at my meeting with Mayor Goreham was Arlene Rivera, President of the Off-Campus Student Union, who offered a few of her own thoughts on the regulation of parties.

“Perhaps those at the party, or those hosting the party can have an ally in the State College Police,” Rivera said.

These regulatory attemps aren’t the first examples of cooperative legislative efforts to benefit college students. An earlier example ia the noteworthy Pennsylvania State Senate Medical Amnesty Bill endorsed by the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments that gained traction earlier this year. The bill, dubbed the “good Samaritan policy,” attempts to provide legal amnesty to underage individuals seeking medical attention for themselves, a friend, or acquaintance in the event of life-threatening alcohol-related illness.

Solving the drinking problem in State College is an ambitious challenge, but it is difficult to oppose cooperative efforts between the Borough Police and students, especially in emergency situations. Leave a comment to let us know what you think about the party patrol system implemented by State College and Penn State Police and share your thoughts on the potential for a party registration model in line with those adopted by other schools.

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About the Author

Dave Cole

Dave graduated from Penn State in 2013. He was the Managing Editor of this website. Dave remains a proud Onward State alumnus to this day.

Twitter --> @davecolephoto

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