“For the last three years it’s been pretty much a zero tolerance policy when it comes to crime codes violations” Chief of police, Robert Van Loan says, “which would include underage drinking, disorderly conduct, any assaults or anything like that.”
At Block Party 2015, there were 135 open container violations, 65 underages, 37 disorderly conducts and 5 assaults. If these numbers sound huge, that’s because they are.
Block Party has become immensely controversial and has been the main talking point at Town Hall meetings since the middle 2000’s. What was designed to be a day long outdoor party to culminate a long and harsh Bloomsburg winter has turned into tens of thousands of kids that are all ages, from all over the state embarking on this small town and essentially taking it over.
Now, over the last two years, cops have been implementing new rules to crackdown on the craziness of Block Party. This has been evident given that the total numbers of arrests and citations jumped from only 79 in 2013 to 265 last year.
2015 Block Party accumulated 135 open container violations, which was up from only 26 in 2013 and 8 in 2011. This was gathered by police checkpoints in town and on Fetterman Ave, a known Block Party hotspot. A new white line was implemented along Fetterman Ave. last year, with cops directly on the other side waiting for students to step over and get cited.
Open container citations weren’t the only violations that we saw huge spikes in at Block Party 2015, underages were also up from years past. There were 65 underages given away in 2015, up from 41 in 2014, which was a huge spike from 2013, a year that only 15 were handed out.
“Each circumstance is its own animal.” Robert Van Loan explains.
Circumstance dictates the police officer course of action.
“If it is something questionable, we do not want to violate anybody’s rights,” Robert Van Loan elaborates “Somebody staggering down the street, falling down drunk, their backpack probably will be searched and an arrest for public drunkenness.”
So, what does this mean for Block Party 2016?
Across the board, numbers are up significantly from 2013. The one that is being keyed in on seems to be open containers. With 135 citations given out last year and 75 given out in 2014, expect officers to examine that immediately.
If you’re out on Saturday and want to be safe, just make sure whatever you’re drinking is in some sort of cup.
Bloomsburg police has taken its level of concern over Block Party to a code red over the past two years. They’ve called in police from all over the state to help out with controlling Block Party and have made their message clear. The only question now is, will students obey?
This article originally appeared on BlockPartyInsider.wordpress.com, a project for Mass Communications’ Spring 2016 Journalism Workshop. You can view all of the workshop’s work there.