Monday, November 12, 2007

Not all harmless fun

One of the more common calls the Lincoln Police Department responds to on Thursday night through Sunday morning is a party disturbance. The typical complaint involves someone who has kids, a job, or a Friday morning class who isn't nearly as interested in the shenanigans going on upstairs or next door as the partiers who are regaling the neighborhood with the inflated tales of their prowess at 3:00 a.m..

We have had some strategies in place for the past few years to try to reduce the number of these complaints, and to prevent "party houses" from damaging the livability of fragile neighborhoods in our city. These strategies have primarily involved ramping up enforcement, and identifying and engaging landlords in helping to solve the problems being caused by certain tenants who could care less about their neighborhood--or their guests. While there is still an unending supply of disturbances, the strategies have actually helped reduce some of these problems.

Cutting down on these complaints not only helps out the affected neighborhoods, it saves some substantial police resources, as well--a topic I blogged about earlier this fall. There is, however, an even more valuable side-effect to controlling the party scene and minimizing high-risk behavior. Sometimes drinking parties become the site of much more serious events. We saw a tragic example of this in 2004, when Nebraska soccer player Jenna Cooper was murdered, landing her killer, Lucky Iromuanya, in prison with a life sentence. But less dramatic and less publicized violent crimes--especially assaults and rapes--occur at or in the wake of drinking parties with depressing regularity.

In the wee hours on Saturday morning, for example, we investigated two cases in which uninvited "guests" crashed two separate parties in the North Bottoms neighborhood. Only one of these was reported in the local press, but the two parties together resulted in one robbery, two vandalisms, and eight assaults. On top of the victimization, that's a noticeable bump in the crime rate and a ton of investigative work and police reports.

These party invasions have become rather common, fueled in part by the instantaneous spread of information via cell phone and text messages about the location of parties where few questions are asked about invitations, nobody knows who's supposed to be there, and many people just show up on their own. Larceny is sometimes the motive for the new guys who (after the goods are noticed missing) nobody seems to have recognized. Purses and home electronics are the frequent target of such thieves posing as party-goers.

Anyone who thinks our efforts to keep large drinking parties under control is merely the result of the conservative leanings of the police chief has never seen the unhinged mayhem that police officers encounter, or the aftermath in the emergency room. Want to make an impact on violent crime in your community? Institute strategies to encourage safe, sane, and legal partying that doesn't involve inviting a couple hundred of your closest friends over to share six kegs and a single toilet in your 750 sq. ft. rental.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Lincoln have a "Disorderly Conduct" charge? That could go a long way to lull related activities.

Anonymous said...

Wide-open, no-invitation-required parties are also popular with lowlife trash that stop by to case the place for later burglary, or even a later home invasion robbery. Drunk hosts are often especially proud of their stuff, and love to show it off. Just hope no one shows up a few hours after the party, while you're sleeping it off, and takes at all while a fellow thug points a shotgun at your head (like they did in the Woods Park area earlier this year).

It's even worse than garage sale casing, because they not only get to see what potential swag you have in your garage, but also can scope the loot in your house. They get to check for an alarm system (admittedly, not usually an impediment in properties of that type), examine your locks and jambs, and so forth. Maybe even unlock a back door or basement window for later entry.

Remember, it's wise to do a security check on all doors and windows before you leave home and before going to bed. It's also wise to have all locks changed after you move into a new house or apartment; this assumes that you don't also have a maintenance guy with a master key planning to boost your stuff.

Tom Casady said...

We do, Disturbing the Peace, one of the most common arrests we make (1,472 last year). We also have a couple of other very useful ordinances for these matters called "Maintaining a Disorderly House", and "Failure to Disperse."

jenn said...

I am sure the police are sick of hearing, "why don't you go fight some real crime?" from idiots at the party. Maybe there should be an article in the paper regarding why the police break up parties. Some statistics could be thrown in. The information in this post is a good start. I think some people could use a reality check about "real crime".

Anonymous said...

Sorry to chime in on an old post but this one hits home. I've had to call in twice now for house parties. Sadly there were many more instances where it was needed. The officers did a great job both times. First time a warning, second time the paperwork started. Beyond all the info listed that goes along with these parties is people drinking and driving away at 5 in the morning. These are becoming the after hours bars for people and putting dangerous drivers on the street.

Tom Casady said...

Nov 18:

Thanks for the feedback. You're right about the drunk drivers. I've heard lots of young people complaining about breaking up parties, to the effect that we ar sending drunk drivers out onto the road. Hah. As if all 120 people crammed into this rental with one toilet are going to stay here and sleep it off. I'll have to blog about this....

Brian said...

I just have to say that the last sentence of your blog made me chuckle! Thanks!