Friday, January 28, 2011

Party crash

There has been a crash in the number of complaints we receive from the public about loud, unruly parties.  In police lingo at LPD, the type is Incident Code 12311—Disturbance Wild Party. This dispatch record is pretty typical of the call:


In 2005, we responded to 1,862 of these complaints.  In 2010, we responded to 877.  In those six years—despite a population growth of around 18,000—the number of party disturbance complaints fell by 985.  That is huge—a genuine crash to be sure. 

Wild party complaints are no fun.  At least two officers must be dispatched, and in many of these calls, you have to deal with people who are a not entirely pleasant and cooperative.  Even when an oversensitive neighbor calls on a pretty nice social gathering (which is rarely), there always seems to be that one guy….You know him, he’s the jerk we all know, who was even a bigger pain in the drain when he’s liquored up—which is about anytime he’s in the presence of alcohol.  He’s pre-law, or a criminal justice major, or his daddy is a personal friend of Chief Cassaday.  No, as a police officer you’re just not feeling the fun and frivolity of it all when you are called because the neighbors are not as amused by the contest occurring on the front porch as the participants and spectators. 

This is not to mention the collateral splatter from parties that have gotten to the point that someone has called the police to complain—assaults, vandalism, drunk driving, sexual assault, and the occasional robbery or homicide.  Follow the tag in my label cloud to “Party on”, to read more about this, and to read about the various strategies we’ve engaged in to reduce these neighborhood problems and these harms. 

Fortunately, the great majority of the time a request to quiet things down, take it inside, tone down the music, and so forth works:  the hosts oblige and we can go on to fry bigger fish.  But there are always those few hundred warnings that go unheeded, and when that happens—especially more than once—some other strategies kick in, including zero tolerance enforcement for law violations.  Enforcement, however, though quite important, has not necessarily been the most efficient means of ameliorating the problem. 

Working with landlords, property owners, and managers has been particularly effective, and explains the steep drop since 2005.  While we are occasionally called to a single family owner-occupied home, this is not the norm.  Usually the location is a rental home, an apartment, or a house that Mom and Dad back in Frostbite Falls bought, thinking that the three kids who would be serial college students in Lincoln could live there over the next 10 years, and it would be a better investment than a decade of dorm fees.  We have learned that if you methodically get to the owner or manager of a property with repeat complaints, and motivate him or her to have the same interest as you do in solving the problem, the results are far better than anything we can accomplish alone. 

Nothing wrong with a nice party.  Have at it.  Don’t violate the law by letting minors drink, by providing alcohol to people who are already drunk (yes, that really does violate the law), by selling alcohol without a license, by littering, or disturbing the peace, or allowing your guests to illegally park all over the neighborhood.  If the police are called, and ask you to cool it, do just that (or at least make a vigorous attempt to do s), and you’ll probably be just fine.  Ignore the law, or try to get cute with some ruse like selling red plastic cups for $5 with free beer, and we’ll keep the lights on for you.


Anonymous said...

Last weekend????? Looks like B0- to me. 1-23-10

Anonymous said...

That was last weekend + 365 days.

Anonymous said...

Um that would be Tom Bodette?
Leave the lights on for ya...No extra charge.

Tom Casady said...


Whoops, back to work.


Graybar Hotel, with stainless steel toilet.

Anonymous said...

Are your officers sent out very often to break up loud out of control pot parties? How much are they charging for Twinkies at these wild pot parties?

Gun Nut

Steve said...

I can't vouch for other neighborhoods, but former party house a few doors down has been quiet for quite some time now thanks to the efforts of LPD. I don't have the details of everything LPD did in this regard, but I'm quite certain that contact with the landlord was what ulitimately put an end to the parties. I think the owner decided to find someone other than college students as his preferred renters, and I'm sure it benefitted him as much as the neighborhood.

Thanks for your efforts.

Tom Casady said...

Gn Nut-

The two substances (Alcohol and Ganja) often are found together. I'm not certain about the going price of Twinkies, but you could do some research.

Anonymous said...

Gun Nut-We all know that Flaming Hot Cheetos in the reusable bag are the preferred choice of potheads everywhere.


Anonymous said...

I remember a party we were having back in the early 80's where the music was coming from a boom box on the upper balcony of a big house by the capital. Well, time slipped away from us and before we knew it, a very nice police officer was at the door to the upstairs balcony asking us to move it inside. So, as the conga line moved past the boom box, I just picked it up and we congaed all the way inside, past the first laughing officer, down the stairs and past the second laughing officer, who just shook his head and left. But, we were all of age, and understood about the neighbors.

Unknown said...

I have lived in Omaha and Lincoln during my college days and have had my "run in" with the police during a party in both cities with a huge difference in how they handle the situation. In Omaha, they ask for people to "keep it down, and move it inside, or we will be back". In Lincoln, they immediatly want the party, no matter how small (5-10 people) to disperse. Why the difference in strategy?