Police Chief Praises Community Effort as State Patty's Day Crime Declines
State College Police Chief Tom King applauded the community as he briefed borough council members about a drop in arrests and alcohol-related incidents during State Patty's Day.
At Monday night's State College Borough Council meeting King said, "The numbers are back to the levels of the first State Patty's Day in 2007."
Preliminary data reported a 72 percent decrease in total calls for service for both the State College and University Park police departments, down to 381 compared to 534 in 2013. Total arrests were down 42 percent from 244 in 2013 to 102 in 2014, on top of a 62 percent dip reported last year. Of the 65 total arrests made by State College Police during the weekend, King identified at least half as residents from out of town.
The number of people who received treatment for alcohol at Mount Nittany Medical Center dropped to 33 from 46 in 2013 and 72 in 2012, a decrease of 45 percent across the last two years.
While working downtown over the weekend, King says he saw less traffic and many vacant on-street parking spots. Unlike previous years, when incoming calls for help would often outnumber the number of available officers, King says there was never one instance where all officers were busy.
One reason King identified for the continuing decrease in incidents was the cooperation of the Penn State Interfraternity Council. Along with placing a ban on parties and social events, King says "20-25 percent" of the Greek community participated in service work.
"We would have had a lot of challenges with full frats," says King. "They did the right thing."
Following the paid closure of 34 out of 35 bars and restaurants by Penn State University using funds from student parking violations and notes from police advising apartment complexes to curb large gatherings, King says the community deserves praise for its efforts in scaling back the negative impact of the holiday.
"It's not the police that solve the problem," says King, "it's the community. And they've done a great job."
Mayor Elizabeth Goreham also said the community should feel pride, while UPUA student representative Chase Englund, a senior at Penn State, noted that the student-created holiday "seemed a lot tamer since I was a freshman."
In other council news, Richard Devon, chair of the Design Review Board, handed out the Focus on Appearance award to "recognize individuals, businesses, or organizations that have contributed to the enhancement of the community's ambience." The award goes to Penn State for the renovations to the Lion Shrine and Frank Koe III for maintenance and preservation of his mid-century home on 411 South Sparks Street.
Gordon Turlow, director of campus planning and design at Penn State, accepted the award on the university's behalf. He thanked the original architect Walter C. Reiss, the students who donated funds for the statue's improvements as their 2012 senior class gift, and stone mason Phil Hawk, the mastermind behind the new pedestrian pathways.
"Anything at Penn State is always a team effort," says Turlow.