Police nix house party registry due to lack of interest


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Students at the University of Iowa and local residents aren’t going to get courtesy calls before their parties get busted — at least not anytime soon.

Iowa City and UI officials decided jointly to put the prospect of a house-party registration — which would grant students a 20-minute grace period to calm their registered party down — on hold after they said people showed no interest.

Last fall, Iowa City police and UI officials discussed the initiative that would allow students and residents who register their parties with police to receive a phone call prior to officers being dispatched to the location.

Officials modeled the idea on program at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“We just haven’t gotten any organized interest from the students,” said Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine. “We’ve had a few inquiries, but that was from people who were having a party that night, and then come Saturday morning, they wouldn’t care again.”

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Last fall, Hargadine and Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Services, participated in a webinar with Colorado State officials on house-party registration. Though they discussed the idea, they never formally advertised it or actually created a system.

At Colorado State, if no neighbors complained after a first call about a registered house, no officers are dispatched to the location. If the party failed to calm down, however, officers were authorized to write tickets to both the party organizers and the partiers.

In spring of 2009, Colorado State students — who face a $1,000 fine for a disturbing the peace charge — suggested the idea to university officials. In Iowa City, keeping a disorderly house costs partiers $250.

Adrienne Battis, an assistant director of off-campus life at Colorado State, said the registry has been a “huge hit”; the 88.3 percent of students who registered their party have not gotten in trouble.

But with little student advocacy in Iowa City, Rocklin and Hargadine said, the idea has been put on the “back burner.”

“We never advertised it because we never decided we were going to do it,” Rocklin said. “There wasn’t a lot of interest, and we just couldn’t find a real need for it in our community.”

But of 20 students interviewed by The Daily Iowan, 18 said they’d be interested in a program similar to Colorado State’s. And only four of those 20 had heard of the idea.

UI Student Government President John Rigby said he would like to talk to more students about the potential for a house-party registry. If many seem interested, it could be something UISGpushes for, he said.

The number of disorderly house tickets written has tripled since 2007, with police issuing 273 in 2010 and 16 so far this year.

“It would keep everyone safer,” said UI freshman Christian Hillenbrand. “All of my friends have had house parties and had the cops come, and they get screwed over. If they gave you a period, everyone would have a chance to save themselves.”

UI sophomore Gary Urban agreed and said he thinks the city should consider the idea again.

“I definitely think [other students] would be interested, because who wants a $150 to $200 disorderly house [ticket] if they can avoid it?” he said.

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