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UI police changes focus of patrols

BY ERICA MAHONEY | SEPTEMBER 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following the University of Iowa Department of Public Safety’s decision to discontinue bar checks, officials say they will focus patrolling in other areas on the UI campus.

“The original intent of our downtown patrol was not focused on bar checks but rather on what had been an increase in violent and disruptive behavior in and around the downtown area,” said Lucy Wiederholt, associate director and chief of UI police. “We are simply returning to our original focus.”

“We are reallocating our patrol efforts toward areas our students, faculty, staff and visitors frequent,” she said. “These areas include but are not limited to the Main Library and Learning Commons, IMU, UIHC interior and exterior area including parking structures, UIHC Emergency Department, areas surrounding and commonly traveled to residence halls, and the Aspire apartments.”

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said that although the UI police have stopped participating, the bar checks aren’t going anywhere.

“The [Iowa City police] has always had responsibility for the downtown area to include checking for PAULAs in the bars,” he said. “UI [police] helped for a couple of years because they were foot-patrolling in the area anyway.”

Hargadine said the recent change will mostly likely have no effect.

And Wiederholt said there may still be instances in which the UI police help out with downtown bar checks.

“There may be times in which we would participate in special enforcement efforts conducting bar checks either jointly with Iowa City police or independently, during alcohol-related grant enforcement projects,” Wiederholt said.

Although things have been changing for the UI police, Wiederholt said, the response from the community has been positive overall, and officers will continue to help out where they can.

“The officers downtown will continue to respond to calls for service, assist Iowa City police, address disruptive and or illegal behavior, and respond to requests for assistance from bar staff and the public,” she said.

“It actually makes the computations easier because we’re only using our statistics,” he said. “UI [police are] still in the downtown area patrolling as a safety presence.”

With the school year beginning, downtown bars say they also have not seen much of a difference in the frequency or number of officers patrolling each night.

Joe Cassata, a bar manager for the Airliner, 22 S Clinton St., said the restaurant/bar has experience with the checks and he doesn’t expect much of a change.

“Well, we did lose our exemption this past year, so we’ve been doing 21 and over,” he said. “But the first weekend of school, we got one or two PAULAs, but for the most part, we’ve been trying to crack down since we lost our exemption, so it hasn’t been as bad.”

Jackson Zapata, a co-owner of Bardot, 347 S. Gilbert St., said although the checks can be an inconvenience, it’s necessary.

“I think it’s probably uncomfortable for the customers, but at the same time the police have to do their job,” he said.


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