As Westfield students head off for their first week of school, so do the students of Westfield State University return to campus and our community. On behalf of the Westfield Police Department we would like to welcome you back and hope you have a fun, safe, education filled year of learning!
At the police department, this is also the time of year we start to begin fielding complaints (usually on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday evenings) of problems involving rowdy students in neighborhoods surrounding WSU's campus as well as in the downtown areas where there are many students living off campus. Many of us went to college and all of us were 18 to 22 years old once. Some of us wish we still were. Part of college and being young is having a good time and sometimes even making bad decisions. This does not, however, mean that it is acceptable to infringe on other people's rights or to put people in danger. The problem of underage alcohol consumption and raucous parties is addressed by the Westfild Police Department, Westfield State University, and City Officials on a regular basis.The following is a list of steps that are taken in cooperation with the city, the police department, and WSU in order to curb under age drinking and unacceptable behavior by students off campus:
- In September members of the WPD and WSU Academic Affairs go door to door with informational literature welcoming university students and outlining expectations at every off campus college property we are aware of.
- We address freshmen each year at orientation in June
- We address sports teams in the fall
- We work with our landlord group and provide assistance or make recommendations for lease agreements.
- We have extra patrols on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when possible..
- On busy nights we actively seek out and make notifications at college houses PRIOR to complaints when officers identify a possible gathering.
- We actively enforce city ordinance violations, local and state laws
- We have worked with the city to establish and amend ordinances pertaining to alcohol, noise and most recently create a nuisance house ordinance.
- As part of the nuisance house ordinance, and the Massachusetts General Law for keeping a disorderly household, tenants, cosigners, and landlords can be held responsible for unruley and disruptive behavior.
- Notifications are made to parents when a student is involved in an incident off campus.
- Notifications are made to landlords when any issue arises at their property. In extreme cases we are able to force an eviction under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 139 sections 19 and 20.
- Notification is made to WSU Student affairs, public safety, and the director of athletics when students are involved in any off campus incidents.
- Once notification is made, WSU acts on all illegal activity taking place off campus.
- Alcohol compliance checks are routinely made on all package stores, bars, and restaurants.
- Reverse stings are done outside package stores in which we wait for people to purchase alcohol for others under 21.
- If and when criminal charges are filed we work with the courts to come to the best possible resolution for the student and the city.
- The health and building departments both act on any reports of violations at off campus student properties.
There are other steps taken as well, and the University and the Westfield Police Department are in constant communication about students off campus. As neighbors it is always a good idea to get to know the people living on your street. Take a few minutes to walk over and introduce yourself to your new neighbors. this is something most people would do for anyone that moved into the neighborhood, so why not continue the practice with your college aged neighbors? It makes it much more difficult for people to be disrespectful when they know they are bothering "Alice next door", as opposed to "That lady who likes to call the cops!"
If you are a University student reading this, take a walk around and meet some of your neighbors. Give them your phone number and ask them to call you if there is a problem. It might be nice to avoid a visit from the police simply by asking your neighbors to call you rather than us if they think you are too loud.
As always, please call the police department for any situation you feel has carried on beyond the point of reasonableness. If you have college aged students, take a look at the picture attached to this article and share it with them. Most of the 10 laws are applicable across the state of Massachusetts. After you do that, take a walk next door and say hello to your new neighbors.
The above mentioned "Alice" is a completely fictitious name. Any likeness to a real person is completely coincidental. It should also be noted that men call the police to report noise and disturbances as well as women who may or may not be named Alice. Thank you.