UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Campus police target alcohol-related problems near campus

– With a new school year about to begin, University of California, Berkeley, police are stepping up their efforts to curb alcohol-related crimes and other problems on and around the campus. Their plans for the fall semester, which starts Tuesday, Aug. 22, include decoy operations designed to reduce underage drinking.

Campus administrators and police have long been working with students, area businesses and neighborhood groups to reduce alcohol-related problems, but a new $40,000 grant from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is making it possible for the University of California Police Department to expand its enforcement efforts.

Under the grant, campus police will partner with ABC investigators and the Berkeley Police Department to continue, and in some cases to expand, programs that have proved successful here and also elsewhere, when used by other law enforcement departments, according to Lt. Doug Wing at UC Berkeley.

This new effort, which will coincide at UC Berkeley with traditional back-to-school parties and Greek life recruitment events, will include party patrols in which a city and a campus police officer will share a vehicle and patrol for alcohol-related problems including assaults, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

University police will also be looking for students with fake identification. Police will work with local alcohol retail establishments to catch underaged individuals using fake identification cards and driver licenses.

There are more than 35 alcohol-selling establishments in the immediate campus area. The grant will allow UCPD and Berkeley city police to target those with a disproportionately high number of alcohol-related crimes. The effort will include monitoring whether bars and clubs are checking for valid identification and following other laws and regulations governing alcohol sales. For businesses, violations can carry substantial fines and possible loss of their alcohol license.

For students and other patrons, punishment for alcohol-related misdemeanor offenses including possession of false or altered identification, misdemeanor assaults and public intoxication can range from warnings to arrests, fines and community service requirements to jail time and loss of a California Driver License for up to a year, according to Wing. UC Berkeley students may also face campus student conduct charges. Generally, violations of the campus student conduct code can range from warnings to suspensions.

"The problem is bigger than a few underaged people getting together, having a few drinks and having some fun," said Wing. "It is about quality of life issues for the campus and surrounding community. Our experience and other programs around the nation show that alcohol reduction programs are more effective with an aggressive enforcement component."

Nationally, 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. More than 696,000 students in that same age group are assaulted by students who have been drinking. And, more than 97,000 of them are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, according to the Annual Review of Public Health's 2005 report.

In 2005, an alarming series of alcohol-related problems in the UC Berkeley Greek system led campus officials to ban fraternities from serving alcohol at on- and off-site parties. That moratorium was gradually lifted over the 2005-06 school year and fully lifted by the end of the spring semester, following a written agreement by Greek leaders to take comprehensive steps to promote safety at their parties and events.

Wing pointed out that law enforcement is just one aspect of a holistic approach the campus takes to address alcohol-related problems around campus. For example, to offer alternatives to events involving alcohol consumption, campus staff and student groups host late-night, non-alcoholic activities such as movie nights, casino nights and athletic competitions. Other efforts include:

  • A new "Party Safe" public awareness campaign launched by the campus that provides students with information about alcohol laws and policies, as well as with tips on how to be a responsible party host, guest and neighbor. It also provides critical information on how to identify symptoms of alcohol poisoning and what to do. The information is available on the Web at: http://partysafe.berkeley.edu
  • AlcoholEdu for College, a program used by numerous colleges and universities and first launched at UC Berkeley during the 2005-06 school year. It requires all new students to take an online course on alcohol awareness. Students must take an initial two-hour session before arriving on campus, followed by a 15-minute final session after Welcome Week, which runs Aug. 21-25. The program is being enhanced this new school year to include UC Berkeley-specific resources for students, including links to medical and counseling services and relevant campus policies and contact numbers.
  • A chancellor's task force made up of students, Berkeley residents and city and campus officials. The group is working together to address recurring problems, including late night noise and alcohol-related incidents, and to generally make the neighborhoods near campus more welcoming and peaceful. Neighborhood canvassing and a "Welcome Back" street fair are being sponsored by a local neighborhood association to reach out to new student residents.
The new special enforcement efforts being launched by campus police under the ABC grant will take place on undisclosed dates during Welcome Week and continue during the fall semester on days when law enforcement officials anticipate high levels of alcohol consumption. These efforts will continue during the spring semester.

The University of California Police Department handles all patrol, investigation, crime prevention education, emergency preparedness and related duties for the campus community. It has 77 officers, 45 full-time, non-sworn personnel and 60 student employees and has primary jurisdiction on the campus and associated UC properties.