Eastern Hampshire District Court Monday 9:00 AM
I have not seen a Monday morning in Eastern Hampshire District Court this crowded since the one that followed the Blarney Blowout in 2014 when 58 college aged youth were arrested -- beleaguered APD accounting for 55 arrests and UMPD only 3.
Yesterday it was "only" 32 total arrests being arraigned, 28 for APD and 4 of them UMPD. And like the ignominious Blarney Blowout, all of them were pretty much alcohol related.
Eric Beal (seated) watching the proceedings
UMass Neighborhood Liaison Eric Beal, himself a civil attorney, attended Monday's crowded arraignment session for the first time and came away very impressed. He told me the courtroom was run like "a tight ship", the "most efficient courtroom" he had ever seen.
Between the 9:00 AM start and 11:00 AM adjournment Judge Payne and the DA's office had disposed of all 32 arrests.
It helps of course that the Commonwealth has a "diversion" program that turns criminal complaints into civil ones with the payment of the town bylaw fine ($300), four months probation and a required alcohol education program sponsored by UMass, or the "brains at risk" program for non UMass students.
And the District Attorney's office is always cool, calm and professional when pitching these pleas that work well for everyone.
I counted at least 20 APD arrests who took the diversion program, most of them arrested for underage drinking and "open container on a public way." Thus the town "benefits" by $6,000 in fines.
APD Chief Livingstone tells me that overtime costs for the all-hands-on-deck Halloween weekend came to $5,885 thus we, sort of, broke even.
That fine money however goes into the General Fund and not to the police budget, so in that sense a losing deal for APD.
Most of the Blarney Blowout cases settled this same way although my memory is Judge Payne required perps to write a letter of apology to the Amherst police department for their boorish behavior that day.
Amherst Fire Department had their extra "impact shift" of four firefighters on duty from 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM all weekend (bringing total to 13) but that is covered by UMass who pays the town $80,000 "extra" per year to staff more ambulances on weekends when school is in session.
Darn good thing, since AFD had 30 medical runs to UMass, 20 of them for alcohol abuse and 16 of those necessitating transport to Cooley Dickinson Hospital, a round trip that eats up a full hour of time per ambulance.
ETOH = alcohol OD