180 arrested at party for underage drinking
Special from the Newark Post
— A total of 180 people were arrested for underage drinking at a party on East Park Place on Saturday afternoon.
The arrests were part of a large-scale, multi-agency operation meant to crack down on out-of-control parties in Newark, said Lt. Bill Hargrove, a spokesman for the Newark Police Department.
This is the third year NPD has held a pre-planned controlled party dispersal operation. Approximately 30 officers from NPD, University of Delaware Police, Delaware State Police, Middletown Police and Delaware Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement participated.
The pre-planned operations involve getting a search warrant and result in stricter enforcement than a typical incident in which police break up a party.
“In a normal party complaint, we show up, try to identify the residents and everybody else puts down their beers and leaves,” Hargrove said. “With this, [the warrant] specifies that we will corral everyone and hold them.”
When such an operation is planned, officers patrolling the city identify where parties are starting and then hang back to observe the situation, attempting to build probable cause for a warrant. On Saturday, undercover officers went into the party at 302 E. Park Place.
“It was an open party; nobody needed invitations,” Hargrove said. “We just walked right in and weren’t challenged.”
The investigation showed that “alcohol was seen being freely distributed to the guests, many of which appeared to be under the age of 21,” and approximately 200 people were present,
he said, noting that a permit is needed for gatherings of more than 150 people.
A judge signed off on a search warrant, and police raided the party at around 4 p.m. Anyone 21 or older was allowed to leave, while all the underage attendees were administered breathalyzer tests and, if found to have drank alcohol, were cited for underage consumption.
Two of the people arrested were under 18, but Hargrove was not sure if they were young college students or still in high school.
Additional charges are pending against the residents of the home, whom Hargrove said are affiliated with an unsanctioned fraternity.
Last year, the city came under renewed pressure to crack down on off-campus drinking after a 20-year-old Skidmore College student visiting friends at UD died after falling off the roof of a West Main Street home in March. The home had been the site of a large St. Patrick’s Day party earlier in the day, police said at the time.
The danger posed by excessive alcohol consumption was also on display Saturday, when police searching the East Park Place home found an unresponsive student suffering from an alcohol overdose. The student was taken to Christiana Hospital, treated and released.
“We don’t disagree with college kids having a good time, but it has to be done responsibly,” Hargrove said. “It’s important because every year, we have incidents where lives are affected by the overconsumption of alcohol.”
He described Saturday’s party as a “detriment to the whole neighborhood” and one where “the only pre-planning was where the beer was coming from.”