With State Patty’s Day coming up Feb. 23, the State College Police Department is promising maximum enforcement of the downtown area during the entire weekend, Community Relations and Crime Prevention Specialist at the State College Police Department Kelly Aston said.
The State College Police Department is partnering with Penn State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and all the local police departments in Centre County to help patrol the State College area, Aston said.
Although some crime is higher during State Patty’s Day, Aston said for the most part, punishments next weekend will not differ from punishments given on any other day or weekend of the school year.
“Whenever it’s appropriate by law, [a person] will be taken in front of a Magisterial District Judge,” Aston said.
Aston said that an individual who is arrested by police may face a hearing immediately or have to post collateral or bail. If that person is found guilty by a judge and unable to post collateral or bail, they will be placed in the Centre County Correctional Facility until they are able to do so, Aston said.
Aston said that there are many variables and factors involved and that the process may differ from person to person, however. The process will be the same for everyone, whether offenders are a Penn State student or a visitor, Aston said.
The type of crime the person committed, the level of the offense — if it was a summary offense, a misdemeanor or a felony — and the “competency” of the person involved are all contributing factors to determine punishment, Aston said.
Although police are requesting maximum fines for all violations, it is up to the judge to decide the penalties, Aston said.
“The judges are aware of the impact this weekend has on the community, but ultimately it is at their discretion [to set penalties],” Aston said.
The maximum fine for underage drinking is $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second offense, and the maximum fine for public drunkenness is $500 for the first offense, Aston said.
Aston said summary offenses, like underage drinking and public drunkenness, will be taken more seriously next weekend.
“On most weekends we wouldn’t be as likely to take somebody before a Magisterial District Judge on a summary violation, but State Patty’s Day is obviously problematic,” Aston said. “Because we have the manpower and the possibility that the magistrates are going to be more accessible, we would like to, when lawful to do so, take people before the judges and make them accountable for their actions.”
Aston said that there will also be increased enforcement — including plain clothed and uniformed police officers — in student living areas within the downtown area.
“There will hopefully be a more concentrated, proactive approach to enforcement in places like the high rise apartment buildings and the student-rental homes in the surrounding neighborhoods,” Aston said.
State College Police Chief Tom King has also sent a written letter to bar owners, bottle shops and distributors in the area asking them to close their businesses or limit their hours during the weekend, Aston said.
“It’s the same letter that was sent to them last year and we are asking them do whatever they can to assist us,” Aston said.