Flagstaff police are fed up with partiers and hope to put college students on notice: If you attend an underage drinking party, don't be surprised if you end up in jail.
"The residents in this city are done being up all night," said Sgt. James Jackson of the Flagstaff Police Department. "There's gonna be strict enforcement on these violations of the quiet and peacefulness of a neighborhood."
Sixteen students drinking at The Grove apartments off Lonetree Road received that message first-hand from their new neighbors just after midnight on Saturday when they were all booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility.
Police had received calls that an entire building of the new student housing complex was having a party. Officers arrived, picked the loudest apartment, and asked to speak to a resident. When it was found that none of them lived in the apartment, police told the students to sit on the ground and began processing arrests for underage drinking and contributing to the delinquency of minors.
Officers returned to the building with a paddy wagon and continued busting up other parties. Eventually, they arrested 16 people between the ages of 18 and 21. Another recent weekend saw 11 people from one party at The Grove arrested.
But the complex is far from the only place police are finding college students partying.
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"The last couple years we've seen an increase in party disturbances and it's gotten to the point it's out of control," Jackson said. "It's an increasing problem on the Southside that we want to get a handle on."
Although many students at parties and their hosts might expect to get only a warning to turn off their music and send people home, Jackson says that has never necessarily been police policy. The decision to issue citations and make arrests is done at an officer's discretion, but police regularly chose last week not to give a warning.
Jackson says the department takes parties seriously because they are often also linked to sexual and physical assaults, as well as general noise disturbances that affect quality of life in a neighborhood. The parties are also often associated with underage consumption of alcohol.
If police show up at a party, they can cite the residents for disorderly conduct, providing alcohol to minors, allowing minors to consume alcohol on an unlicensed premise, and other related charges.
Additionally, police will issue a civil notice that if officers have to come back to the home in the next 90 days, the residents will have to pay for each officer who arrives in addition to any fines.
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.