Police plan crackdown on neighborhood parties

Steve Rushin

In light of what police described as the worst behavior in years at off-campus student parties, local beer distributors and representatives agreed Thursday to promote responsible drinking more actively.

The informal agreement came at a hastily called meeting at the Brooks Memorial Union among beer representatives and distributors, Milwaukee police, Public Safety, ASMU and Marquette administrators.

Early last week Milwaukee Ald. Paul Henningsen stated in a letter sent to many of those at the meeting that he received several complaints from area residents about parties.

The meeting also was initiated by police, who kept an especially watchful eye on the Marquette area on the weekend of Sept. 6. They said they did not like what they saw.

The public drunkenness and under-aged drinking they witnessed were not the only things that concerned them, the police said.

“I saw kids getting derelicts drunk at parties until (the derelict) was in ambulance form … and they all thought it was funny,” said a sergeant from the Milwaukee Police Department.

Nonetheless, the sergeant said he was only observing and did not make arrests.

“Marquette’s looking bad on an off-campus affair,” Lt. Paul Glowacki of Public Safety said.

Beer representatives and distributors agreed to make the hosts of the parties they service aware of the law and encourage them to police their own parties. Beer representatives were called upon to play this role because they deal with nearly all of the hosts of local parties.

Dean of Students James Moore said the police were “putting the ball in our court” and that students should curb the rowdiness before “the police have to jump into the fray.”

If hosts still will not tone down the parties, “there will be strict enforcement of the law,” Glowacki said.

In a written statement, Anheuser-Busch representative Joe Harrison stated, “We want to … cooperate with aldermen, Milwaukee police and the Marquette administration. It’s imperative that all the beer representatives cooperate and remain within the legal limits of this community.”

That statement came after representatives of Budweiser, Miller, Old Style and Pabst acknowledged that illegal services have been performed by representatives in the past. By law, representatives cannot sell beer or even provide such accessories as cups or taps for the parties.

Still, there was confusion among many at the meeting as to what the representatives legally are entitled to do.

The representative agreed to a proposal by Moore, who suggested the representatives and distributors compile a list of the types of services they perform for parties, submit the list to the city attorney “and let the legal beagles tell you what you can and cannot do.”

The beer representatives said they act only as “go-betweens,” connecting party hosts with beer wholesalers.

Police said residential dwellings – houses, flats, and apartments – cannot be granted licenses to serve malt products under most circumstances, and, without a license, beer cannot legally be dispensed. Police said this is not the case for small get-togethers.

Where the “get-together” becomes a party is not clear, police acknowledged. They said the law is kept purposely vague, and that is what gives the police their leverage.

If parties are not disturbing the neighbors or spilling into the streets, police hinted that they will not be checking for licenses to serve beer.

Several beer representatives said that once colder weather sets in, parties will likely remain indoors and thus distributing will decrease.

Moore and Judy Shields, assistant dean of students, said they were looking for more than just seasonal solutions. They said they want to increase awareness of the problem now so things tone down before the block part Sept. 28, when off-campus parties are expected to abound.

The police said they would like to see results earlier than that. Gibson said he will continue to observe the Marquette area and file a report by Sept. 25. At that time he will suggest to police officials what, if anything should be done about the parties.

With cooperation from the beer representatives, distributors, ASMU, the Police, and Public Safety, Marquette officials said they hope area parties will become more civil. All agreed the ultimate responsibility lies with the party hosts and their guests.