Sunday, April 7, 2013

Who ya gonna call?

Large crowd starting to form Townhouse Apartments around noon

A huge contingent of UMass police helped APD prevent another "Blarney Blowout" yesterday with a great number of officers patrolling in a highly visibility manner the usual hotspots, especially in North Amherst:  Meadow Street, scene of the "Blarney Blowout riot" and Hobart Lane, home of the infamous "Hobart Hoedown," and all along North Pleasant Street which cuts through the heart of UMass, our omnipresent neighbor for 150 years.

Townhouse Apartments main entry

At one point around 4:00 PM Hadley Police called for UMPD's special tactical unit (a four person rapid response team stationed at AFD North Station) to assist with an out of control party, but had to fend on their own as the unit was busy dealing with problems in North Amherst.

But the problems in Amherst never reached the level of a month ago when a great number of State Police were required to quell the rowdy throng at Townhouse Apartments.

Let's hope our local PDs can maintain this level of vigilance over the next five weeks.

UMPD officers help disperse large crowd starting to gather Townhouse Apartments

Townhouse Apartments West entrance

Bumper to bumper Meadow Street traffic early afternoon

Rooftop party Meadow Street, North Amherst center

Joint APD UMPD checkpoint Hobart Lane

Party House North Pleasant Street


Walter Graff said...

I'd give your blog kudos in this Larry. Ever since we have been discussing what is needed to curb these problems and offering links to government publications on the subject, suddenly the police and the school are changing their tactics. Prevention, prevention, prevention.

Larry Kelley said...

"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."

Walter Graff said...

Next the University needs to set up weekly sobriety check-points. Unfortunately it is something they will not do because of politics and legal issues they are afraid to tackle. And then they need to close certain entrance roads to the school after hours making for late night restricted travel that is monitored by police visibility at entrance points. In doing so they will create presence and make on-campus kids think twice about driving drunk or acting stupid.

As for off campus life, the school needs to now focus on creating a department to oversee and regulate off campus living. Bottom line, you may live off campus but you are under our wing. You will follow the newly written and updated guidelines. These guidelines will include contracts you sign not only with landlords but with the school. Failure to oblige these contracts will no longer be a warning or something the school does not know about.

The Amherst police will work with the school to create a system of notification to the newly developed school residency agency (whatever you want to call it). Problem areas and residences will be identified. The system will now be able to pro-act to potential problems, not react. Now violations of off campus students will be met with an infraction system that starts with mandatory suspension and ends with expulsion.

Students will all be required to attend a class upon admission that will clearly outline the guidelines for safety and living so that there are no excuses, and no claims of ignorance.

Police presence is the first way to start the process from the towns perspective and that seems to be what they are doing. The next step is setting up systems of both education, awareness and prevention on the Universities part. None of this is new. It has been done successfully all over the US at many universities and all the data and information about programs is available to any person interested.

Simplicity in approach is key. It does not have to be over thought. Reminds me of a neighborhood issue we had when I worked with a suburban police department in NY. The northern part of the city had a watershed area. And kids were using it as a dirt bike track. Residents complained for years. And all sorts of plans were created to address it. From building walls on the paths with dirt and logs, to putting up signs, to patrolling the area outside of the watershed. None worked. Then one day we came up with the simple and straightforward method. Let's go in the woods and wait behind a tree and stop these kids. In the first year we impounded nearly all the bikes. We made sure to publicize our success. Soon after the kids got the idea and found something new to do that wasn't a public menace.

Dr. Ed said...

Did it ever occur to any of you that these UM students are learning the lesson you are teaching them -- that they are going to conclude that "might makes right" and that "bigotry is OK if you can get away with it" and similar things?

The concept that civil rights apply (and actually exist for) those whom you despise the most isn't being upheld in Amherst right now -- and these kids -- White Upper-Middle-Class kids who soon will be in a lot of gatekeeper positions where they are going to turn around and do the exact same things to groups whom they don't like.

Folks, I spent five years essentially advocating for single mothers, racial minorities and the disabled -- I heard the exact same things that I am hearing from you folk about UM students. I explained to one landlord (this was not in Amherst) that African-Americans have the right to walk down any damn sidewalk they please, and that he couldn't require my clients to walk a longer & circuitous route.

If her teenaged-sons were actually doing something, that was one thing, and if the town PD wasn't willing to address it, then I'd have a conversation with them about it (and I would have - trust me). It also was perfectly acceptable to ask people to be considerate of others, even to ask them not to bounce basketballs right outside other people's apartments (which they weren't doing), but that you simply couldn't prohibit some tenants from using sidewalks that all the other tenants were free to use.

And you particularly couldn't do this because they were poor & Black and because the other tenants didn't want to see them.

And I don't see how this is different from telling the UM kids they can't walk down Fearing Street. Or how it authorizes a "checkpoint" to deny access to Hobart Lane when the town pays to plow it, when it is a public way.

And why aren't the property owners being asked to pay for the police details, much like WMECO has to?

This is not just an academic question. I have personally seen - in Amherst - kids 2-3 years out of UMass -- saying such prejudicial things and making such outrageous "might makes right" decisions that I eventually just bypassed a couple of them and went directly to someone I knew in upper management.

Do not forget that Gen Y is going to be heavily taxed to fund your social security and medical care -- and that the same sort of ME, ME, ME, and to hell with "Them" mentality that you are showing now may come back to bite you -- 90% of these kids stay in the Commonwealth and they are not going to forget what they are learning here.

So when you are all needing HP Parking in order to get to the polls, why not eliminate it and/or close off streets near the polling places? Lessons learned aren't forgotten....

A Jewish lawyer whom I know once found it necessary to defend the Nazis -- this was during the Boston busing mess. He didn't much like them, nor they he, but there were important principles involved here and if a judge had the arbitrary power to jail someone for merely setting foot in a certain city, then a judge has the arbitrary power to jail anyone for setting foot in a certain city -- or any city.

The Nazis (and Jehovah's Witnesses) have set many of the First Amendment precedents because they are so unpopular -- so very, very, very annoying as well.

It is said that the City of Chicago really didn't care if the Nazis had a rally in a city park -- the concern was that if they could, the Cook County Republicans might want to do the same thing.

Amherst = Hypocrisy...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Walter, what you are doing is heroic and may even be the most important thing anyone in Amherst is doing.

Dr. Ed said...

Let's go in the woods and wait behind a tree and stop these kids.

I presume these were pedestrian hiking trails that the public had access to -- and as long as you followed due process (i.e. if the bike had been stolen, returning it to its rightful owner like you would any recovered stolen property), and as long as it was clearly posted that bikes weren't allowed -- and I mean multiple big signs -- then I have no problem with what you did.

But note what you did NOT do. You didn't harass the guy walking through the woods with his girlfriend. You didn't harass the Boy Scout Troop going on a hike. You didn't do ANYTHING until you actually saw someone ON a bike, and you left everyone else alone.

If you had taken the Amherst approach, you would have harassed anyone under the age of 30, you would have particularly discouraged the Boy Scout Troop and the guy with his girlfriend from using the trails in hopes of stopping the bikes.

Young people have been abusing alcohol since Biblical times. In Massachusetts, the drinking age was raised to 20 after a horrific crash involving four 17-year-old girls back in the late '70s. There was never an attempt to prevent 19-year-olds from drinking -- the intent was to keep 16-year-olds from doing it. There never was an intent to keep alcohol out of the colleges -- the intent was to keep it out of the Middle Schools....

Relative to elsewhere in the Commonwealth, Amherst really doesn't have a high incidence of OUI. Yes, one is too many but you don't see the clearly-drunk drivers that you see elsewhere.

So what if some kids are up on a flat roof with a few beers? As an undergrad, I used to brief ConLaw cases up on the roof - albeit with a highlighter rather than a beer - but so what?

And if you start having a policy of no-one-on-a-roof then the town becomes negligent when someone falls off a roof and is injured because the kid wouldn't have gotten hurt had you enforced your policy.

It almost seems to me that Amherst is trying to prevent the UM students from EXISTING and that the harm is that they aren't in hiding somewhere.

Michael Smith said...

Walter Graff said...

No Ed, this was a watershed area consisting of city reservoirs and as a result not open to the public. We had every right to stop the bikers in their path. The issue was how. Once all the more complicated attempts that only addressed the paths and not the bikers were exhausted, did a simple procedure to stop the bikes work. UMASS needs to address the culture it is allowing and not the "problem" of drinking.

Unfortunately Ed, your examples are too far reaching, to broad a stroke, although I'm sure in the right context could be validated. Yes Amherst does seem to focus on things, sometimes things that make little difference and sometimes focusing on one thing over another, while excluding one group, or including the wrong group.

My references are to the University, it's students, and the town. Right now the town needs to let out the leash so police can police, the University needs to create a no tolerance policy and needs to educate its students on drinking, responsibility and work to change the culture from UMASS is a place to party to UMASS is a place to learn and is not very tolerant to partying. It will not happen overnight but it is documented to work and does for hundreds of schools in this country. It can work here. Someone just needs to step back and see reality as many of us on the outside do.

If someone like me had a few months working with a newly organized student housing authority for the University, I'll bet we could find some great solutions that satisfy the town, the students and the University.

I hope the meeting the other day was not a formality and real issues were discussed and ideas thrown into a hat to make positive change.

UMASS has great potential and I'd love to see it's rating stepped up in best colleges to attend category. Right now it seems to me that its management has little understanding of it's student body and their social needs and forms of expression that are not what they knew growing up let alone understand. You can't run institutions as old-style institutions these days with the newer generations that have ways of communication that leave old ways of thinking by old-school institutions in the dust.

Sort of like the IT industry. If eight years ago you told me it would be a dying industry I would have questioned you. Today it is dying fast as new ways of IT managing are overshadowing what everyone took for granted. As one of the heads of Microsoft told me last week, just five years ago at a conference he told the industry that they need to change or they will all be out of work. Many laughed. Seems he was right as IT divisions are being lost to cloud IT at an alarming rate. Point: New ways of addressing issues need to be looked at with the changing scope of socialization by younger people.

Anonymous said...

The "Ed & Walter Blog Show" that is what this has been relegated to. And it now sucks!

Larry Kelley said...

As of this morning this website has published 2,484 articles, ALL of them written by me.

And 27,000 Comments, maybe 20 - 25% of them written by me.

I put less thought into my Comment responses than I do the main article.

And I put NO thought into publishing what others write, except the 4 or 5 seconds I scan them to make sure they will not generate a lawsuit.

If you don't like what Walter and Ed have to say, then simply skip Comments.

If you don't like the articles I -- and only I -- write, then don't bother coming here.

I will not miss you. Honestly.

Dr. Ed said...

Walter, I personally lost all respect for the law with the Jason Vassell charade. Vassell brutally stabbed two unarmed men who were trying to get away from him, pictures don't lie and I have seen them.

It's a criminal offense to picket a courthouse -- 368 MGL 13A with up to a year in jail for penalty -- yet absolutely no one seemed to care when students and others brazenly violated this law.

I saw a UM Professor stand in front of the DA's office and threaten a race riot, threaten outright violence, if the DA prosecuted Vassell for a crime he clearly had committed.

No one cared.

I brought this to the attention of a member of the Board of Trustees who told me that the same professor was pulling similar stunts 20 years ago, with equal impunity.

By contrast Walter, what's the worst that these kids have done? Drink beer and make noise. That's the worst until the cops attempt to bust things up, and compare that to brutal attempted murder.

I despise that town and that purgatorial cesspool of a university, and it is dying.

I'm still waiting for a court to uphold out-of-jurisdiction enforcement of a public university's code of conduct -- and as the university very quietly settles every lawsuit that gets filed, we'll all be waiting a very long time for this.

I have a better idea: "State Reservation." New York doesn't have such a thing, although the so-called "green line" is the closest analogy. Amherst is given a choice -- cede certain property to the state or be totally responsible for policing the property. Hobart, Townhouse, etc thus become part of a state reservation, with all property taxes paid to the state, all permits coming from the state, and Amherst having no jurisdiction over them AT ALL.

I don't see why UMass students should have to pay to police Amherst when UMass doesn't even get the revenue from the tickets that the UMPD writes. If that all goes to Amherst, even though UMass is now considered a municipality, then Amherst should hire its own cops and police its own town by itself.

Anonymous said...

Good point Larry, best of luck in the future, I will not be returning.

Larry Kelley said...

"And another one gone, and another one gone ..."

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving too but am coming back as a different anon.