Amherst police prepare for second weekend

By Sam Hayes

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Collegian File Photo

Amherst’s summer serenity was smashed like a Bueno y Sano window last week when college students returned, bringing with them a rise in vandalism and alcohol-related arrests. But the Amherst police say that this is nothing new.

Between Thursday, Aug. 31, and Sunday, Sept. 2, there were almost 40 arrests in Amherst. The overwhelming majority of the arrests were college-aged people charged with alcohol-related offenses.

The number of arrests, fines and complaints during the 2012 back-to-school weekend were consistent with the numbers seen in previous years, according to Amherst Police Capt. Chris Pronovost.

Thirteen University of Massachusetts students were arrested or summoned to court for underage drinking, open container violations, disorderly conduct and vandalism Thursday night and early Friday morning.

Over the course of the night, construction cones and signs were stolen and toppled over, newspaper boxes were knocked over at the town hall, a large container of grease was spilled behind Amherst Chinese Food and windows were broken at Bueno Y Sano.

Four parties – including one with over 100 guests – were shut down on Thursday night.

Although some of the freshmen moved on campus  for orientation Thursday, Pronovost said there was no reason to suspect the arrests or vandalism were due to the earlier move-in or shift in orientation times, despite the young age of many of the suspects.

New students have to “realize that they cannot show up in town with alcohol and party without consequences,” Pronovost said.

He also said students need to think of Amherst “as their hometown, rather than a faraway place where anything goes.”

The Amherst Police Department was prepared for the return of students and “saturated the historically” rowdy places such as Phillips Street, Main Street and the Puffton/Townhouse Apartments area.

Pronovost warned that on popular party nights the police are out in force and that “for anyone doing something illegal it will be hard not to get caught.”

Until Sept. 30, the Amherst police will be using additional patrols that will focus on combatting underage drinking and opener container laws, according to a press release issued by the APD.

The department will be using both plainclothes and uniformed officers.

The police will use a sector-based patrol as they have for the past three years. In this approach, the same officers repeatedly cover the same areas in order to familiarize themselves with troubled patches, as well as open lines communication with the residents.

The police captain pointed out that when arrested, students have to deal with the University sanctions as well as the law. All arrests are reported to the UMass dean of students and the University can take additional disciplinary action.

Pronovost’s advice for students looking to not get arrested is to find an activity on weekend nights.

“Find something better to do than walking around with alcohol, looking for a party … the University has done a good job at providing alternatives.”

This Friday, as part of UMass Night Out, the craft center will be open late, there will be karaoke in the Student Union and a Glow-Out Party, sponsored by the Stonewall Center, in the Fine Arts Center.

Saturday night is the First Week Concert, where Karmin will be the featured performer.

Pronovost said students need to look past UMass and get partying “out of their systems” and be considerate of the area around them in order to “become better community members.”

Provonost is optimistic that as the semester progresses and students adjust to school, things will calm down. “I hope things get better as the semester progresses.”

Sam Hayes can be reached at [email protected]