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Overall State Patty's Day Crime Dropped, but Penn State Campus Sees Increase in Incidents

by on March 03, 2014 3:50 PM

State College Police Chief Tom King released preliminary crime figures for State Patty's Day weekend, which shows an overall drop in crime for the Penn State student created event that promotes binge drinking.

At the same time, Penn State University police saw an increase in on-campus incidents - and the majority of emergency room patients treated for alcohol-related issues were Penn State students.

Overall, crime dropped nearly 47 percent with 135 criminal incidents reported this year compared to 254 incidents in 2013. This year's criminal activity is also 63 percent lower compared to 2011, the year the event saw the highest level of related crime – 367 incidents.

Arrests also declined by 58 percent with 102 arrests this year compared to 244 in 2013. This year's arrest figure is also 75 percent lower than 2011.

Calls for service were also dramatically lower compared to 2011 when at 10 a.m. on a Saturday every single State College police officer was at the scene of an incident and there were multiple calls still waiting for an officer response.

"This year, we never got close to that point where we had every officer tied up at one time," King says.

The reduction in calls for service allowed officers to be proactive in residential communities and monitor house parties before they got out of hand, says King.

Every officer at the State College Police Department worked overtime shifts this weekend generating roughly $10,000 in additional labor costs, King says.

While overall incidents declined, Penn State University police saw a 20 percent increase in reported incidents compared to last year, according to data released by the department. In 2013, there were 64 incidents reported to university police compared to 77 incidents this year. On-campus reported incidents for university police increased 24 percent with 53 incidents in 2013 and 66 incidents in 2014.

At the same time, the number of arrests made by university officers dropped by more than 50 percent. Penn State police arrested 42 people in 2013 and 20 people this year. Of those 20 arrests, 11 were Penn State students.

The number of criminal charges filed by university police declined 61 percent with 57 charges filed in 2013 compared to 22 charges filed in 2014.

Despite slightly higher incidents on campus, Penn State Police Chief Tyrone Parham says overall State Patty's Day seems to be losing steam.

"I think things went really well and it was the best since the event's inception. There were significantly less visitors in town who came in with the sole purpose of drinking a lot of alcohol," says Parham. "The fact that there were less alcohol transports, less public drunks and high risk drinking, was a good thing."

This year, 74 percent of patients seen at the Mount Nittany Medical Center emergency room for alcohol-related illnesses were Penn State students, according to data released by the hospital. And, the average patient was old enough to legally drink alcohol.

This year, the emergency room saw 35 alcohol-related incidents with an average patient age of just under 24. The average alcohol-level was .248 percent. Of the 35 patients seen, 26 were Penn State students.

Overall, alcohol-related illnesses declined compared to State Patty's Day weekend in 2013 when the Mount Nittany Medical Center saw 49 patients for alcohol related events. The average alcohol-level was .283 percent. The average patient age was 20.5. Of the 49 patients, 22 were Penn State students.

The Centre County Alcohol Task Force handled enforcement on the roadways with DUI roving patrols Friday through Sunday. The details resulted in the arrest of seven drivers for alcohol-related DUI and one driver for marijuana-related DUI.

The task force also issued six traffic citations for various violations including driving with a suspended license, two citations for public drunkenness, and two citations for underage drinking.

Additionally, the task force issued warnings to 73 people for various traffic violations.

As a joint effort to ultimately end State Patty's Day, Penn State offered cash incentives to downtown businesses in exchange for an alcohol-free zone and the Penn State Interfraternity Council banned fraternities and sororities from organizing social functions. Additionally, officials encouraged property managers to discourage parties in apartment buildings.

In 2007, Penn State students created State Patty's Day as an alternative drinking celebration after learning St. Patrick's Day fell during spring break. Since then, the event has created alcohol-related mayhem downtown.

King hopes the extraordinary measures taken by the borough, university and students over the last two years has created an opportunity for the community to replace the event that solely focuses on drinking with a winter festival that everyone in the area could enjoy.

"I think this is the perfect time," King says.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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