DPSSS, city to share drinking vigilance

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The St. Louis Police Department can now search students for violating liquor laws and may issue city court summonses at Saint Louis University. In a new effort to combat underage drinking, the University has formed the Midtown Coalition, a group of key community partners, including the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the City Excise Commission.

“SLU has numerous programs in place to address this issue, but we need the surrounding bars to step up in helping us reduce underage and high-risk drinking,” Vice President of Student Development Kent Porterfield said.

The Department of Public Safety and Security Services  has deployed and will continue to deploy four officers in two separate golf carts from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m on Friday and Saturday nights at random. The officers patrol the Frost Campus in search of students violating drinking laws. DPSSS, however, now has assistance from the St. Louis Police Department.

With the STLPD on campus, susceptible students are not only subject to disciplinary action from the University, but also from the city of St. Louis. STLPD has the authority to summon students to court, making it a legal violation, while DPSSS cite students to the Student Conduct Board, making it a violation of conduct.

“By enforcing liquor violations, we are protecting vulnerable male and female students from possibly becoming the victims of a more serious or greater crime,” Assistant Director of Field Operations for DPSSS Kent Hornak said.

At the beginning of the semester, SLU held meetings with local bar owners, urging them to check the identification cards of their patrons effectively, to engage in responsible serving practices and to eliminate drink specials that encourage excessive alcohol consumption. Also, SLU hosted a training session led by the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control that focused on responsible practices.

“Our focus is a reduction in both crimes against persons and property. If DPSSS can help reduce both areas by enforcement of liquor violations, we will continue to do so,” Hornak said.

The St. Louis Police Department acknowledges that they were asked by SLU to help patrol regarding safety and combating underage drinking. Public information officer for the STLPD Katie O’Sullivan said that police department has been called in regard to issues of safety and underage drinking on several occasions.

O’Sullivan said that there are no firm plans in the future for working with SLU on this effort. O’Sullivan said that the police are unable to release specific information regarding the department’s involvement, and therefore could not release information about recent instances of alcohol violations on campus.

Sophomore Francis Celii said he believes that the enhanced security has its benefits, but that he remains skeptical as to the actual effectiveness of the new initiative.

Celii said. “If this just a scare tacit though, it won’t do much.”

Sophomore Charise Lowe said she thinks that underage drinking is less of a police issue and more of a cultural issue.

“There is no true deterrent for underage drinking. The environment promotes drinking,” Lowe said. “I think is a good idea, but I don’t know how much [the police] can affect the culture.”