Berkeley police report decline in alcohol-related citations, arrests

Ariel Lung/Staff

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During the first two weeks of the fall 2018 semester, Berkeley Police Department issued a total of 170 citations, arrests and four in custody bookings for crimes involving alcohol.

BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White said in an email that 56 arrests and citations were given to people holding open containers of alcohol, 48 were given to minors in possession of alcohol and 35 were given to people who were in possession of a fake ID. The total number of citations shows a steep decline from last year’s 551 alcohol-related citations and arrests.

According to White, the scale of alcohol enforcement has decreased because of the recent lack of a grant from Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, that the department used to receive in the past.

“In past years, alcohol enforcement was supplemented by a grant from ABC. Those grants enabled the Department to enlist participation from several outside agencies,” White said in an email. “This year, BPD did not receive a grant from ABC and we did not have the same scale of alcohol enforcement as in the past.”

The department uses a system in which officers are offered overtime to patrol on most Friday and Saturday nights. Sometimes, there are no officers available to work the overtime positions, according to White.

Campus spokesperson Adam Ratliff said in an email that the CalGreeks community is working to make the campus environment safe and supportive by providing trainings on the subjects of alcohol, sexual assault and hazing from the Leadership, Engagement, Advising, and Development Center.

In 2015, the Interfraternity Council, or IFC, placed financial penalties on individuals who did not follow the council’s alcohol regulations.

“In Fall 2015, IFC [Interfraternity council] voted to impose escalating financial penalties on their members that break alcohol rules,” Ratliff said in an email. “The CalGreeks Alcohol Taskforce (CAT) checks to see that the fraternities are providing snacks and water for all registered CalGreeks events, and ensure alcohol rules compliance.”

Campus junior Natalie Keltner-McNeil speculated that the decline of citations and arrests could be because of a decrease in police presence throughout the community.

“The police may be busier, in other parts of town, or aren’t patrolling as much on campus,” Keltner-McNeil said.

According to White, the data is representative of arrests and citations made during the first two weeks of the academic school year. Officers from several agencies previously joined BPD for enforcement during this time period.

“The data is collected during the first two weeks of school because that is traditionally when officers from other agencies join us for the enforcement, though additional enforcement sometimes occurs during other points in the school year.”

White said in an email that staffing is a challenge for BPD, which affects the way that they regulate loud parties.

“Generally, the beat officer will respond to complaints of loud parties as time allows them to respond (when there are no other emergency calls),” White said in an email. “To assist with this, the Department offers overtime for officers to staff Safety Patrols in the south campus area on most Friday and Saturday nights—but sometimes there may not be officers available to work the overtime positions.”

Contact Sabrina Dong and Stanley von Ehrenstein-Smith at [email protected].

Correction(s):
Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Interfraternity Council helps Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, or GAMMA, to provide snacks and water for all registered fraternity events. In fact, GAMMA is no longer active, and CalGreeks Alcohol Taskforce now checks that fraternities are providing these services.