Alcohol statistics might reflect new police technology at MSU

According to yearly annual reports, MSU police recorded 496 liquor violations in 2010 and 781 liquor violations in 2011 — an increase of about 58 percent from the previous year.

MSU Police Sgt. Paul Kuchek said there could be a number of reasons behind the discrepancy, including an increase in development in the department.

“While most municipalities are cutting police and fire, the administration at MSU is very concerned (with) providing a safe and orderly environment for MSU students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Kuchek said.

MSU Police received a $48,622 grant to be used until September from the Michigan Department of Community Health called the MSU Police Technology Enhancement Project.

The grant allowed the department to purchase equipment such as Netbooks, Panasonic Toughbooks and Polycom units, which provided the same technology found in mobile data computers in patrol vehicles to motorcycle and bicycle units. Officers were given better technology to target more crimes.

“(The administration has) provided us with a strong workforce and a technologically advanced department,” Kuchek said. “The officers here have taken advantage of what has been provided and are very proactive with their work.”

Civil engineering senior Taylor Sting said he has noticed more people facing minor in possession charges, or MIPs, recently.

“I feel like it’s very (common) among people our age in college, maybe one in every 10 (students have violations) at the minimum,” Sting said.

Sting said if he could guess the reason behind the increase in recorded liquor violations, the police might be “cracking down on alcoholism on college campuses.”

He said evidence of stricter law enforcement could include the recent Michigan keg tag registration law, which requires those purchasing kegs to fill out a form including their name, phone number and other personal information.

Kuchek said another explanation for the large difference between 2010 and 2011’s alcohol violation numbers could be the method the MSU Police Department uses to record the charges.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, requires universities that receive federal financial aid to release information to the public regarding crime on or near campus.

This act, which is monitored by the United States Department of Education, is constantly evolving and changing from year to year, Kuchek said. In years prior, the department was able to record multiple arrests under one complaint. If three people were arrested for MIPs, statistics only displayed a single arrest.

“I think (the Clery Act) is trying to find an answer to reflect the most accurate information,” Kuchek said. “Clery (logs) may always be a work in progress.”

Kuchek said final reasons behind the difference in recorded alcohol violations could be a grant given to the department that funded alcohol enforcement in 2011, which funded the salaries of officers who targeted alcohol crimes, as well as an increase of responsibility of residence hall administrators for the safety of their residents.

“In 1975, the residence halls provided the kegs of beer during welcome week activities,” he said, adding the drinking age was 18 years of age back then. “Now, if there is any question as to a person’s welfare in his or her respective hall, the staff calls us for help.”

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