Police and fire officials looking for Fake Patty’s Day lawbreakers

file photo A trio of girls do shots in a bar in Aggieville on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

The streets will be flooded with green on Fake Patty’s Day, but people will also be seeing a lot of blue. The Riley County Police Department will have a strong presence in Aggieville on Saturday, making sure the day’s events go as smoothly as possible.

A vast majority of officers will be working that day, said Matt Droge, public information officer with the RCPD.

“Obviously, we realize this attracts a lot of people,” Droge said. “This is an event that is heavily planned for.”

In addition to its own officers, RCPD will be drawing upon other nearby law enforcement agencies for help during the event. Officers from Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, Emporia Police Department, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Junction City Police Department, Hays Police Department and the Kansas Highway Patrol will all be working alongside the RCPD for Fake Patty’s Day, according to Droge.

“Our own officers will be working overlapping shifts to make sure there are enough police on the streets to keep everyone safe,” Droge said. “It wouldn’t be uncommon to work a 12 to 14 hour shift. With an event such as this, it would be irresponsible not to devote the necessary resources.”

The celebration, now in its seventh year, has led to a greater number of arrests and citations in part due to an ever increasing police presence. The number of citations issued have decreased since a high established in 2011. However, the number of arrests continue to climb every year.

Police arrested 115 people at this event in 2013, an approximate six percent increase from 2012 when 107 arrests were made. The 2013 arrests were the most made in the history of the event. Disorderly conduct was the offense most arrested for last year.

However, the number of citizen-generated service calls made to police have been declining since 2011 when 766 calls were registered. In 2013, that number dropped to 279. Droge attributed the drop to better planning from RCPD and an increase of their presence.

“You’re definitely going to see us down there [in and around Aggieville],” Droge said. “We’re going to have lots of officers on foot patrol. We’ll have officers on bikes, as well as our normal patrols.”

The most common citation given is for having open alcoholic beverage containers in public. Last year, police issued 225 of them to attendees compared to 161 given in 2012. The second most common citation is issued to minors possessing alcohol. The number rose slightly in 2013 to 86 citations. In 2012, 75 citations were issued.

In addition to the celebration taking place in Aggieville, a number of house parties are also held on Fake Patty’s Day.

“House parties are fine as long as no one is breaking the law,” Droge said. “That means you’re not serving drinks to underage people, you’re not making loud disturbances [and] you’re not piling up trash outside.”

Fake Patty’s Day partygoers are not the only ones who could be fined during the celebration. Business owners could face a fine of at least $500 for being over capacity.

A city ordinance passed in 2012 that allows police to enforce overcrowding laws normally overseen by the Manhattan Fire Department. Although according to Droge, the police have not used the new authority much.

“That’s just another tool in the tool belt,” Droge said. “Overcrowding can be incredibly dangerous, but it’s something we normally leave to the fire department.”

According to an August 2011 City Commission memo, 13 bars were recorded as being over capacity during the 2011 Fake Patty’s Day celebration. One bar was listed as being 208 percent over capacity in 2012. The MFD has since adopted a “zero tolerance” policy towards overcrowding violations.

The overcrowding issues have improved since then, said Ryan Almes, deputy chief of the MFD.

“It has been better,” Almes said. “For the last three years, the situation has become more controlled. We’ve had a lot of communication with business owners, and we maintain a presence there all day.”

The MFD will be at full staff during the event, with three teams of three fire officials counting occupancy throughout the day. Almes said the threat of a fire or medical emergency is a serious concern when it comes to overcrowding.

“An emergency event creates an issue,” Almes said. “We have to be able to ensure the timely evacuation of a building.”

The K-State Police Department will continue to keep watch on the campus, according to Donald Stubbings, support services for K-State Police. The department will maintain a standard shift during the event.

Stubbings said his department are prepared for the festivities.

“Our patrol units are proactive in looking out for DUI offenders,” Stubbings said.

According to a news release issued by K-State Police in February, the department has been on the lookout for drunk drivers.

Last year, a total of 22 requests were called for emergency medical services. Droge said the best way to avoid trouble is to know when to cut off the drinking.

“When you drink past your limit, you open yourself up to crime, whether it’s done by you or done to you,” Droge said. “You open yourself up to becoming a victim.”