Proactive policing prevents problems at Arts Fest

The crime numbers over the weekend of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts show a dip in some areas but an increase in others.

State College police Lt. Chris Fishel compared the activity to a football weekend as he unveiled the numbers to members of the media Monday.

“This is actually a good thing,” he said. Fishel said it could point to more proactive involvement of officers making self-initiated stops rather than constantly responding to dispatched calls.

The total number of police calls in 2014 came in at 235, up from 171 in 2013.

Of those, 90 were nontraffic situations for things such as retail theft, loud music and public urination. The majority were for alcohol-related offenses: 24 public drunkenness citations, 16 open container and 30 minors law infractions. There were 27 more arrests than last year. Public drunkenness was up by 14 arrests, and minors law violations doubled.

Driving under the influence, however, dropped from six to two. Non-DUI-related felonies also dropped from four (two separate aggravated assaults and two people charged in a burglary) to two (two men charged in an assault).

Fishel said it could all mean one thing: Advanced planning is working. State College police were joined by surrounding departments, with a large response from university police doing bike patrols downtown.

“The community is pitching in,” Fishel said.

“There seems to be less assaultive behavior this year,” Sgt. Todd Scholton said. “Everyone was just here to enjoy the Arts Fest.”

Scholton said officers also tried to resolve issues without writing tickets.

“If it was something reasonable, we try to work with people,” he said.

For many, that meant noise complaints. There were 17 warnings issued for parties and noise violations, but no citations.

Fishel said that past Arts Fest weekends have been more raucous, comparing them to a prime-time football game Saturday in September, maybe against a rival like Ohio State or Michigan.

This one, he said, was a little more tame, more like a November afternoon game against a less important opponent.