Increased patrols net 21 MIPs on move-in week

Police are out enforcing underage drinking laws.

James Brien

Police are out enforcing underage drinking laws.

Chelsea Lane

As the school year gets into full swing at Grand Valley State University after a long summer, the warm weather and surge of popular on-campus events can often lead to more after-hours partying and drinking. But with Youth Alcohol Enforcement, they can also lead to more police.

Youth Alcohol Enforcement is a grant from the Office of Highway Safety Planning that provides police with extra funds they can utilize to help enforce underage drinking laws. The grant program began in 2002 in response to a large and destructive off-campus party that took place in 2001 and resulted in several fights as well as damage to nearby cars and buildings.

The grant was activated for the first time during the new school year during move-in weekend. Twenty-one Minor in Possession charges were issued to individuals. In addition, one person was arrested on campus for resisting and opposing university police. The grant will likely be activated again almost every weekend for the next several weeks.

As well as monitoring potential on-campus conflicts, the stepped-up patrols are also intended to discourage students from driving while intoxicated and to decrease the number of alcohol-related crashes.

The Holland and Ottawa Sheriff Departments join Grand Valley State University’s Department of Public Safety as beneficiaries of the grant. Police must re-apply for the grant every year if they want to receive any program funding. The current cycle, which had awarded the departments more than $11,000, runs until Sept. 30.

The grant is usually activated around dates of special events, such as sports games, dances and other school-wide functions, when police anticipate there will be a high likelihood of drinking. Weekends with warm weather also usually point to an increased number of parties and drinking and therefore, an increased number of patrols.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan of DPS said past research shows that underage alcohol consumption can lead to larceny, violence and destructive behavior.

“We want our students to know that behavior is unacceptable,” he said. “If you take underage drinkers out of the equation, you will often reduce the other criminal activity.”

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 95 percent of all violent campus crime and 90 percent of all instances of sexual assault at colleges involve use of alcohol by the assailant and/or victim. In addition, a 2002 study showed that 48 percent of all alcohol use reported by college students is attributable to underage drinkers.

Larceny and malicious destruction of property are the two most common on-campus crimes at GVSU. DeHaan believes the Youth Alcohol Enforcement grant helps to reduce these problems and meet students’ expectations for a safe, secure and clean campus. He also referenced an equation used by the DPS staff in their presentations to students: “inappropriate behavior attention drawing behavior = police interaction.”

“Whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk,” said OHSP director Michael L. Prince in a press release. “There is no justification for driving drunk and Michigan law enforcement won’t be accepting any excuses. Get caught driving drunk and you’ll be going to jail.”

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