Police ramp up presence, response

Police ramp up presence for State Patty’s Day

lfalce@centredaily.comMarch 1, 2014 

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    Liquor stores close early for State Patty’s Day

    Add liquor stores to the list of establishments that won’t serve alcohol on Saturday, State Patty’s Day.

    A spokeswoman with the state Liquor Control Board confirmed Friday that four State College area Wine and Spirits stores closed at 6 p.m. Friday and won’t open their doors Saturday on the student-created drinking holiday.

    “As in past years, local leaders asked the board to consider modifying our store hours to help in their efforts to deter the irresponsible drinking that takes place on State Patty’s Day,” spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said in an email. “We understand the significant negative impact that the event has had on the community over the years.

    “While the board has to consider a number of factors, including the inconvenience of a closure on law-abiding consumers and our licensing community, as well as the financial ramifications, the board also weighs the impact of the closure on the health and welfare of the community,” she said. “In the end, as a community partner, the board wanted to support the community’s efforts so they decided to again modify the hours. We’re hopeful all of their proactive outreach will make a difference.”

Penn State students might be looking forward to State Patty’s Day partying, but others in State College are bracing themselves to tackle the weekend in other ways.

For State College police, Saturday will see an increased presence over a regular weekend. It will not, however, see more officers on duty than last year.

“It will just be like it’s been the last couple of year for State Patty’s Day. It’s that same kind of prep,” said Lt. Bradley Smail.

State police also will be participating in the stepped-up response, he said.

Anyone arrested will then get to meet District Justice Steven Lachman. The newly minted judge will be on call over the weekend, his first time for Penn State’s unofficial drinking holiday.

Lachman said he is not going into the weekend with preconceived ideas about the cases that might come before him.

“I will be judging each case on its own merits,” he said.

Mount Nittany Medical Center also is preparing for all possibilities.

“The newly expanded emergency department at Mount Nittany Medical Center is designed to handle the emergency needs of the region. Through use of smart and efficient resources such as private patient rooms, two trauma bays, a rooftop helipad, specially designed behavioral health rooms, a dedicated sexual assault nurse examiner room and a pod-style format, the department provides care and treatment for nearly 50,000 people annually. A planning team anticipates influxes of patients and staffs accordingly so that every patient receives the highest level of care,” said Theodore Ziff, medical director of the emergency department.

Penn State is paying more than $200,000 to downtown drinking establishments and local alcohol retailers to go dry on the student-created drinking holiday.

Taverns, bottle shops, restaurants and beer distributors that students frequent were paid to close or to not serve alcohol.

In 2013, downtown establishment owners were offered $5,000 each for not serving. This year, the State College Tavern Association asked for a tiered level of payments, according to university and State College borough officials.

Last year, the university reportedly paid $170,000.

Bottle shops and beer distributors closed at 6 p.m. Friday.

University and borough officials have said the effort to create an alcohol-free zone downtown, along with other initiatives in the community, helped curtail alcohol-fueled incidents during the 2013 version of State Patty’s Day.

Last year, Penn State police officers issued 46 citations, which was 60 fewer than 2012. Citations were down in State College from 222 in 2012 to 138 in 2013.

The number of people taken to the hospital over last year’s State Patty’s weekend totaled 22, down from 2012’s 36.

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