Kutz Patty’s Day draws un­ruly crowds to Kutz­town

Po­lice re­sponded to pub­lic drunk­en­ness, disor­derly con­duct, un­der­age drink­ing, DUI, noise com­plaints, fight calls

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot on Twit­ter

Kutz­town Bor­ough Po­lice re­sponded to many al­co­hol re­lated of­fenses, pub­lic drunk­en­ness, disor­derly con­duct, un­der­age drink­ing, DUI and nu­mer­ous noise com­plaints and fight calls dur­ing Kutz Patty’s Day in Kutz­town on Satur­day, March 24.

“Safety con­cerns? Any­time you get a large group of peo­ple gather­ing to­gether and drink­ing or us­ing drugs there is al­ways a safety con­cern. Peo­ple were out in the street not pay­ing at­ten­tion to traf­fic, peo­ple over­dos­ing on drugs or al­co­hol, fights and as­saults. For­tu­nately no one was se­ri­ously in­jured,” said Kutz­town Po­lice Chief Craig Sum­mers in an email to Kutz­town Pa­triot on Mon­day morn­ing.

When asked if this year’s Kutz Patty’s Day was worse than other years, Sum­mers said, “I don’t know if it was worse, but it cer­tainly wasn’t bet­ter.”

A Fleet­wood fa­ther con­tacted the Kutz­town Pa­triot to share his “Bad Fam­ily Day in Kutz­town.”

“It seemed like a good idea to take the 8 and 5 year old to the movies for the Satur­day af­ter­noon movie at the Kutz­town Strand on Satur­day, March 24,” writes James F. Stone, Fleet­wood. “A large un­ruly and likely al­co­hol fu­eled crowd at the ad­ja­cent res­i­dence quickly es­ca­lated into mul­ti­ple fights which spilled into the wait­ing area out­side of the the­ater cor­ralling us against the the­ater door. The chil­dren were cry­ing and scared and when we had the chance moved across the street. The fight­ing con­tin­ued and spilled across the street and into the block.

Kutz­town was not the place to be that day so I guess you need to cor­rectly pick the day when you take the fam­ily to Kutz­town.”

Sum­mers could not es­ti­mate the num­ber of peo­ple in town for Kutz Patty’s Day com­pared to other years. He be­lieves an ar­ti­cle pub­lished by a lo­cal news­pa­per prior to the event didn’t help.

“I be­lieve ar­ti­cles like that only serve to bring more peo­ple in town that oth­er­wise would not have known about it,” he said. “There were many col­lege age peo­ple from both KU and other schools. I won’t ven­ture to guess what the per­cent­age of KU stu­dents were, al­though clearly all the house par­ties were hosted by KU stu­dents liv­ing off cam­pus.”

Sum­mers said that it is a mis­nomer to call Kutz Patty’s Day a hol­i­day, it is not en­dorsed or rec­og­nized by the any fed­eral, state or lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

“Both the Bor­ough and the Univer­sity do not sanc­tion this event so it is not an or­ga­nized func­tion like some of the other things that hap­pen in the Bor­ough such as the Block Party, Kutz­town Kruiz or the Taste of Kutz­town. If the Bor­ough had some sort of way of stop­ping this event it would, un­for­tu­nately this has some­how got­ten a life of its own and now has be­come an an­nual event,” said Sum­mers. “We will con­tinue to look at ways to stop it and/ or make it less in­va­sive for the town.”

Sum­mers thanked the Penn­syl­va­nia Liquor Con­trol En­force-

ment, the Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice, the Kutz­town Univer­sity Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety and the Berks County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment.

“All these agen­cies del­e­gated a sig­nif­i­cant amount of man­power through­out the day and evening to help keep a han­dle on things,” said Sum­mers.

Eric John­son, KU pro­fes­sor and Kutz­town res­i­dent and fa­ther, ob­served that much of the traf­fic Satur­day seemed to be from out of town. Park­ing lots were full. He also saw a num­ber of peo­ple Sun­day morn­ing re­turn­ing to cars with sleep­ing gear.

“This is not ex­clu­sively a KU thing,” said John­son.

Kutz­town Mayor Jim Sch­legel said, “We can’t stop it. We are al­ways out­num­bered. We bring in out­side law en­force­ment agen­cies to help. It is all we can do to pro­tect every­one. It is a tremen­dous draw on the Bor­ough’s re­sources. We work with KU to try and curb things.”

Sch­legel and for­mer mayor Sandy Green, who is now Kutz­town Univer­sity Com­mu­nity Li­ai­son & Gov­ern­ment Re­la­tions As­sis­tant, sent a let­ter to land­lords and the gen­eral com­mu­nity prior to Kutz Patty’s Day.

“For many years, the Bor­ough of Kutz­town and Kutz­town Univer­sity have part­nered to de­velop strate­gies to cre­ate and sus­tain the best com­mu­nity for res­i­dents, stu­dents, and guests. How­ever, over the past sev­eral years we have wit­nessed the events of Kutz Patty’s Day and the toll it has taken on busi­ness own­ers, res­i­dents, and other com­mu­nity mem­bers. While the Kutz Patty’s Day ac­tiv­i­ties may be de­signed to be fun for par­tic­i­pants, the im­pact these ac­tiv­i­ties have on our com­mu­nity have been vast.”

Be­yond the trash and de­bris leave be­hind, po­lice, fire, and emer­gency med­i­cal staff are often taxed as they re­spond to be­hav­ior that is un­safe and in many cases pre­ventable, they wrote.

“We be­lieve that many Kutz Patty’s Day par­tic­i­pants are not res­i­dents or KU stu­dents, but guests

seek­ing to be part of this an­nual event.”

Ac­cord­ing to their let­ter, Kutz­town Bor­ough Po­lice en­listed the help of uni­formed and plain-clothes of­fi­cers from other agen­cies “to main­tain a ro­bust po­lice pres­ence to ad­dress and man­age any is­sues that may arise.” Res­i­dents, land­lords and busi­ness own­ers were en­cour­aged to join the KUBoK neigh­bor­hood watch group, be vis­i­ble and to es­tab­lish ex­pec­ta­tions for ten­ants and their guests rel­a­tive to be­hav­ior. Busi­nesses were asked to re­frain from pro­mot­ing drink­ing ac­tiv­i­ties and spe­cials. Every­one was asked to be vig­i­lant in re­port­ing sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties to lo­cal law en­force­ment and to re­frain from post­ing videos and im­ages to so­cial me­dia.

In ad­di­tion, the Univer­sity pro­vided pro­gram­ming through­out the day for stu­dents, and sev­eral Greek or­ga­ni­za­tions pro­vided that day and the fol­low­ing day.

Ac­cord­ing to the let­ter, those found en­gag­ing in pub­lic in­tox­i­ca­tion, pub­lic uri­na­tion, disor­derly con­tact, un­der­age drink­ing and open con­tain­ers, as well as other vi­o­la­tions were held

ac­count­able. House par­ties were shut down and ten­ants cited.

In their let­ter, Sch­legel and Green showed their ap­pre­ci­a­tion in ad­vance of the com­mu­nity sup­port and co­op­er­a­tion, “The im­pact of a col­lec­tive ef­fort is col­lec­tive suc­cess, and thereby we are all able to have the best com­mu­nity pos­si­ble.”

KU sent a mes­sage to stu­dents Fri­day prior to Kutz Patty’s Day from Pres­i­dent Dr. Ken­neth S. Hawkin­son and Dean of Stu­dents Dr. Don­a­van McCargo, re­mind­ing stu­dents to be safe and to act re­spon­si­bil­ity both on and off cam­pus dur­ing the St. Pa­trick Day cel­e­bra­tions.

“While the vast ma­jor­ity of our stu­dents have been ex­em­plary in how they con­duct them­selves in the com­mu­nity and at the time of these hol­i­days, there have been se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions of pol­icy and law in the past by a small mi­nor­ity. While we rec­og­nize the right of Kutz­town Univer­sity stu­dents to law­fully have cel­e­bra­tions, they also have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be good cit­i­zens and re­spon­si­ble neigh­bors. Be­hav­ior such as lit­ter­ing, pub­lic drunk­en­ness, noise vi­o­la­tions and

dam­ag­ing prop­erty are all against the law.”

The let­ter warned that any stu­dent found in vi­o­la­tion of the law will have their name for­warded to the ju­di­cial board for ac­tion.

“We fully sup­port the mayor, lo­cal po­lice and oth­ers in the com­mu­nity in their ef­forts to en­force the law. We are work­ing with univer­sity and com­mu­nity lead­ers to iden­tify ways we can bet­ter con­trol un­law­ful and de­struc­tive ac­tions on the part of both stu­dents and non-stu­dents,” wrote Hawkin­son and McCargo.

Matt San­tos, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, mar­ket­ing and ex­ter­nal af­fair at Kutz­town Univer­sity, said, “The Kutz Patty’s Day cel­e­bra­tion has grown in the last few years in line with sim­i­lar cel­e­bra­tions in col­lege towns around the Com­mon­wealth. While the date at­tracts col­lege stu­dents out­side of Kutz­town Univer­sity, we have taken a very proac­tive ap­proach re­gard­ing the sit­u­a­tion in the past two years. We mes­sage our stu­dent body in ad­vance, pro­vide ad­di­tional po­lice cov­er­age, and have an ad­min­is­tra­tive

pres­ence in the bor­ough. In an ef­fort to be good neigh­bors with the bor­ough, we co­or­di­nate closely with Mayor Sch­legel’s of­fice, as we do year round, to as­sist in any other ways we can.”

San­tos said KU also makes an ef­fort to help en­sure clean up in the bor­ough by send­ing stu­dent groups into town pe­ri­od­i­cally, in­clud­ing the Sun­day af­ter Kutz Patty’s Day.

Kutz­town Bor­ough Coun­cil mem­ber Ara­bel El­liott toured the town late Satur­day af­ter­noon, spoke with busi­ness own­ers, land­lords and res­i­dents.

“There seems to be a agree­ment from var­i­ous sec­tors of the com­mu­nity that the pres­ence of out­siders is the se­ri­ous con­cern. In fact busi­ness own­ers com­mented that the KU stu­dents that they see in their stores on a reg­u­lar ba­sis were re­spect­ful,” said El­liott.

Kutz­town Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship’s Sun­day Clean Up on March 25 in­cluded Kutz­town Area School District stu­dents, KU stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers, who vol­un­teered to clean up trash left be­hind from Kutz Patty’s Day ac­tiv­i­ties.

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