State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Borough, Penn State Look to Continue Decline in State Patty's Problems

by on February 27, 2020 9:31 AM

The problems that have come with the weekend between THON and Penn State's spring break generally have been on the decline in recent years, and State College and the university are hoping to continue that trend.

For 13 years, State Patty's Day, the student-invented drinking holiday, has annually brought a weekend of drunken revelry and with it a strain on police and emergency medical services. 

In a letter to downtown student apartment residents on Monday, State College Police Chief John Gardner, Penn State Police Chief Joseph Milek and Penn State Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Danny Shaha asked for "assistance and cooperation" in continuing to curb the increase in crime, arrests and alcohol overdoses that have accompanied the weekend.

"Many who engaged in excessive drinking were from out of town but were visiting students and residents living in State College," the letter said. "As a result we had many problems with the number and severity of alcohol violations, noise complaints, vandalism, and fights in apartment buildings and through the community during this particular weekend.

"As tenants, we are asking for your assistance in keeping this weekend safe and peaceful."

State Patty's Day problems reached a peak in 2011, when police made 309 arrests and received 647 calls for service between Friday and Sunday. Last year, it was down to 61 arrests and 315 calls for service, marking a continuation of a downward trend since 2012.

EMS calls have also been on the decline, with Centre LifeLink responding to 34 calls during the 2019 weekend, down from 50 in 2018 and 95 in 2017.

The university and borough have tried a number of measures over the years to address State Patty's Day challenges, including paying bars to close. While that practice has been long since abandoned, university and borough officials have in recent years asked downtown bars to limit their hours of operation, specials and themes and otherwise discourage rowdy behavior.

This week's letter to students, as in past years, said State College police will be joined by neighboring departments to have a "substantial police presence" throughout downtown and adjacent neighborhoods, with uniformed and plain-clothes officers especially focusing on apartment buildings and other rental properties. Some rental properties will have extra staff patrolling apartment hallways, and police will be patrolling hallways of some apartment buildings as well, "checking for underage drinking, furnishing to minors, disorders and other crimes."

Police said downtown tenants can help in several ways, including by not inviting guests to their residences this weekend and preventing any guests from yelling or throwing items from balconies. They also advised residents to not let anyone under 21 consume alcohol in their apartments or houses, to not serve large quantities of alcohol, to keep music at a reasonable level (minimum noise violation fines are $750 plus court costs) and to keep property exteriors free of trash and debris.

Property managers and tenants also were encouraged to call police for help dealing with unruly parties and other crimes and violations. Those self-reports will not accrue points under the Nuisance Property Ordinance, police said.

Any students charged with criminal violations also will be referred to the university's Office of Student Conduct for potential disciplinary action.

"We are advising you of these concerns now, with hopes that you will restrict visitors to your apartments or homes this weekend and join your friends and neighbors in helping maintain a safe and peaceful atmosphere throughout the weekend," the letter said.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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