Changes Made to Tempe’s Safe and Sober Program
Complaints that Tempe has become a “police state” have been partially responsible for the cancellation of the annual police crackdown that occurs during the first few weeks of school in the neighborhoods surrounding ASU.
What do you get when you put a bunch of college age students together who are away from any parental responsibility, sometimes for the first time? Easy…loud parties, drinking, crime, and sometimes other more serious problems. The neighborhoods surrounding ASU are the prime locations for these student parties. More permanent residents have grown tired of the weekly ritual and noise. So, for the past two years the Tempe police have used grants from the Safe and Sober program to bring in police from up to 16 other agencies to help crack down on students and their parties for the first three weekends of school. The program was instituted due to the high-profile alcohol-related deaths of two students that occurred in 2012 and with the goal of preventing underage drinking and drunk driving. Over three weekends in 2014 alone police issued 3,571 alcohol related violations and stopped 4,500 additional people for questioning. That is a lot of police activity.
Like all such programs, some residents have been appreciative of the extra force and protection, and other have been very critical. On the critical side, a neighborhood alliance titled for four parallel streets near downtown Tempe, Maple – Ash – Farmer – Wilson, were against the Safe and Sober program and lobbied for its removal. The group created online memes that make fun of the extra police force and actions and also marched to a City Council meeting to make their displeasure known. Police were obviously crimping their style!
Given the cancellation of the full crackdown, police have instead been walking door to door passing out goody bags and reminding residents of party ordinances and the police enforcement available to help if needed. Even though the crackdown has been cancelled, police will still be out and about and will enforce existing laws and ordinances to help keep the public safe.