The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Police put cuffs on UMW partying
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
The number of complaints about disruptive parties is down this year, but arrests of University of Mary Washington students is up.
That’s what Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe told the university’s Town and Gown committee Thursday.
UMW officials meet periodically with city officials, including police and neighborhood associations to discuss mutual concerns.
The conduct of UMW students became an issue last year and Bledsoe told the gathering that there have been 39 student arrests since Aug. 1.
Of those, 20 were for underage alcohol possession and 10 were for public intoxication.
Most were students leaving parties or bars and heading back toward the UMW campus, she said.
The students were stopped by police when they did something to draw attention to themselves, such as urinating in public or appearing to be intoxicated, she said.
The most notable incident was a result of an investigation by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control when 17 students were arrested at a party in the 600 block of Prince Edward Street.
The ABC conducts its own college party details and sends agents to areas heavily populated by college students.
In this case, the agent walked into the party and bought a drink and later returned with a search warrant.
Bledsoe said the majority of arrests were for underage drinking, and the leaseholder was charged with the illegal sale of alcohol, as well as maintaining a common nuisance.
Asked what percentage of total city arrests involved UMW students, Bledsoe said in years past it was less than 1 percent.
Since the beginning of this school year, there have been approximately 21 parties, compared to approximately 31 parties in the same period last year, Bledsoe said.
The parties were broken up after the police department received complaints about them.
She said only about a third of the parties were in the College Heights area and the rest were in the Westwood and Idlewild neighborhoods.
She said in an interview, that the concentration of college parties seems to be moving toward streets close to Maury Stadium.
“When you look where we are going for party complaints, that general area is much more active this year than College Heights, which is traditionally where the majority of our party complaints has been” she said.
She said there have been seven extra-duty party details this year to keep an eye on college parties.
In addition to checking on college parties in homes, the police department is keeping an extra eye on “certain establishments” downtown, Bledsoe said.