Amherst PD to encourage registering off-campus parties with implementation of Party Smart Registration program

By Hannah Depin

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

A pilot program set to begin in the fall will encourage University of Massachusetts students to register off-campus parties in advance, in a joint UMass and Amherst Police Department effort to minimize the number of officers dispatched to loud off-campus parties.

Students who participate in the Party Smart Registration program will receive information about responsible party behavior, as well as provide contact information to the Amherst Police Department. Officers will call hosts of registered parties that receive noise complaints, rather than respond to the scene in-person, according to documents released on the town of Amherst website by the Municipal Strategies subcommittee of the town’s Campus Community Coalition.

To register, students must provide party and contact information by 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays in the Off Campus Student Center in the Student Union, room 314. The applicant’s name, address and phone number will be sent to the Amherst Police Department Communication Center.

If the Amherst Police Department receives a noise complaint related to that address, the registrant will receive a warning call and will have 20 minutes to shut down the party. If there is a second noise complaint, or other reports of criminal or municipal violations, the department will dispatch an officer to the party. Registered parties that receive citations from police will not be eligible to register for the remainder of the semester, according to the documents.

Eligible party registrants must be current UMass students, at least 18 years old and live off-campus in the town of Amherst. Registered parties must be held on Friday or Saturday. Fraternities, sororities, and Registered Student Organizations are not eligible to register parties.

Committee co-chair, Amherst Police Department Capt. Jennifer Gundersen, said that the program aims to give students more responsibility in handling noise complaints, and decrease the number of officers who may have potentially negative encounters with students late at night.

“We need to be responsive to complaints,” said Gundersen, “but we want to increase positive interactions between students and police.”

Gundersen added that the program may help the department face issues with short staffing.

“The department continues to struggle with staffing,” she said. “Our focus has been to be smarter about police responses.”

According to Gundersen, program representatives will table at the Campus Center in the fall to inform students about Party Smart Registration.

The pilot program’s outcomes will be evaluated in January of 2017. The program may be changed or expanded after its initial trial, according to the documents.

Rising junior economics and legal studies major Nick Rampone, who is the incoming vice president of the Student Government Association, supports the program.

“I think it comes from a place of good intent,” he said in an email. “However, I think it is essential that the program is delivered to undergraduates in a way that cannot be misconstrued as cracking down on campus social events.”

Hannah Depin can be reached at [email protected]