There has been a lot of speculation among students about what to expect at Block Party this year, which is scheduled for April 18.
Most of the speculation comes from a change made back in February by the Town Government with an ordinance that created zoning restrictions to cut back on permitted events at Block Party.
I’m sure I am not the only person confused as to what this really means and what this means for Block Party Festivities.
In an interview with Chief of Police, Roger Van Loan, he explains the ordinance, what to expect at Block Party, and how to stay safe and in line with the law while still having a good time.
First, the Ordinance:
Because the number of people attending Block Party has grown substantially in the past years, the town government was forced to make a change to try to control the growing crowd. Officer Van Loan speculates that the growth is partially due to social media. Kids can easily invite their friends and word of the event travels effortlessly.
Officer Van Loan explained that when permit parties were first introduced around 10 years ago, they were designed to try to control the crowds. However, it was not anticipated that the permit parties would end up being a business venture. In recent years, permit holders started selling bands to gain admission into these parties, which causes their property to be considered a “commercial property.” Because they are selling admission, the property becomes a commercial property and that is where the problem lies. The property is considered a residential property and cannot be a commercial property.
Students could still get a party permit if they wanted to, but they must abide by the original ordinance laws pertaining to permitted parties and they cannot sell admission to the event. Permit holders could sell admission if it was to a commercial zone and not a residential zone. For example, someone could potentially rent out a bar and sell admission for Block Party as long as they abided by the code limits which states how many people can be in the building.
If someone does not have a permit, they cannot legally have a party at Block Party with 150 people or more. Sadly, the date to obtain a permit has already passed.
What to Expect:
When asked what would be different about Block Party 2015 in comparison to past Block Parties, Officer Van Loan said that he did not expect anything to be different from a law enforcement perspective. When it comes to violations of the law related to Block Party, he stated there has always been an attitude of zero tolerance. If someone draws attention to him or herself and is involved with an arrestable offense, then that person should expect to be arrested.
In popular areas such a Fetterman Avenue and Iron Street, there will be extra police presence there to enforce any violations and to attempt to maintain control over the crowd.
HOW TO HAVE FUN, STAY SAFE AND NOT GET ARRESTED*
From a law enforcement perspective, Officer Van Loan opened up about how students can have fun but stay safe and in line with the law. This is the part of the article you really want to pay attention to.
If you are going to have a party, make sure you know everyone you invite and how many people you invite. Once you start letting people you don’t know in, a lot of times there is a snowball effect and you wind up with way too many people in your house and on your property. As stated earlier in the article, once you have 150 people or more on your property or in your house, you are breaking the law if you do not have a party permit; and you will get in trouble with the law if it is your house.
One thing Officer Van Loan made a point to say was: if you have a party and you feel like it is getting out of control, it is in your BEST interest to call the police for help. Yes, I know your first thought would be, well I am going to get in trouble for having a party if I call the police. False. Officer Van Loan stated that if you have a party, it is getting out of control and you need help getting people out before a third party calls the police on you, call the police to help you get rid of your unwanted guests. The police will view it as “being responsible” and they will help you get your party under control, and YOU will not get in trouble with the law.
The police prefer you call for help before a third party calls because after a third party calls the police on you, like a neighbor, then you CAN get in trouble with the law.
Another extremely helpful suggestion Officer Van Loan made was to contact your neighbors ahead of time to give them a heads up if you are planning to have a party at Block Party. “Respect is met with respect,” Officer Van Loan stated. If you are respectful enough to give your neighbors a heads up, they are most likely to be respectful and understanding right back. He also suggested giving your neighbors your contact information so if something does happen to upset them or they feel that your party is getting out of control, they can call you instead of the police.
One last pointer Officer Van Loan gave to students was: If you come in contact with the police at Block party, do not view it as a negative thing right away. Again, Officer Van Loan said, “Respect is met with respect.” If you are cooperative, things will go much more smoothly for you and the officer. If you find yourself being cited, do not try to fight the citation right then and there. At that point the Officer is not going to change their mind and you could wind up with a disorderly conduct on top of the original citation. The time and place to fight a citation is at your hearing.
So there you have it: your inside look at what to expect at Block Party and how to stay safe and have an awesome time.