Berkeley police issue more than 500 alcohol-related citations in first 2 weekends of semester

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Jennifer Xie/Staff

Berkeley Police Department issued 551 alcohol-related citations or arrests during the first two weekends of the fall semester for a second year in a row, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

Frankel said in an email that since 2004, BPD has partnered with outside law enforcement agencies through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, to target and record alcohol-related crimes during the beginning of the semester. This year, BPD recorded 534 citations and 17 in-custody arrests from Aug. 18-20 and Aug. 24-26 for offenses such as open containers, minor in possession, furnishing alcohol to someone under the age of 21 and possession of a fake ID.

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Jennifer Xie/Staff

While the total number of citations and arrests this year remained the same as 2016, it is the highest number on record. This year, the numbers of citations for a minor in possession and fake ID-related offenses were also the highest on record, with 181 and 89 reported, respectively.

Frankel said in an email that this increase fits with general trends that BPD has observed. Frankel added that officers patrolled citywide but that the greatest activity was in the south campus area.

“We have seen a steady trend upward in the number of arrests made,” Frankel said in his email. “The use of fake ID’s has been consistently trending upward as underage people find new ways to obtain fake ID’s through online websites.”

BPD uses increased police presence, as well as specific programs called Operation Trapdoor and Operation Shoulder Tap, to address alcohol-related crimes, according to Frankel.

Operation Shoulder Tap involves officers enlisting people over 18 but under 21 to ask adult patrons to purchase alcohol for them.

Law enforcement officers target the use of fake IDs with Operation Trapdoor, a program that involves a roving team of investigators that are able to quickly respond to reports from ABC-licensed businesses about fake IDs.

But campus junior Jon Jay, president of the CalGreeks Alcohol Task Force, said he feels that organizations should focus on informing new students — many of whom are new to drinking alcohol — on laws about alcohol and how to drink safely rather than punishing the students for violations.

“It should be more about education than strict policing. One thing that I’ve learned is that simply showing the consequences isn’t usually the best move, because people will try to maneuver around that,” Jay said. “Simply presenting consequences and continuously doling out punishments, citations and fines is not the best bet.”

According to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich, UCPD specifically recorded 13 alcohol-related incidents in the first two weeks of school, compared to 11 incidents last year.

Reich said in an email that UCPD uses education along with police presence to promote safety. Reich added that some methods that UCPD uses include safety presentations to incoming freshmen both at the start of the semester and throughout the year.

“We’re starting to look at the number and type of incidents, but it’s too early in the semester to determine if there are any new trends,” Reich said in an email. “Historically, we have seen an increase in incidents of unlawful or unsafe use of alcohol at the start of the school year.”

Contact Sam Levin at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SamJLevin.