Officers of the Brunswick Police Department (BPD) on patrol in plainclothes and unmarked vehicles addressed two unrelated incidents at College Houses last weekend, issuing one warning for disorderly conduct and one summons for possession of alcohol by a minor.

On Friday, September 6, a BPD alcohol enforcement detail noticed a student, who appeared to be underage, holding a red Solo cup on the porch of Helmreich House. The officers confirmed that the female sophomore was underage and in possession of hard alcohol.

According to Captain Mark Waltz, BPD “warned her for drinking in public and for furnishing a place for minors to consume” before issuing a summons for possession of alcohol by a minor—a civil infraction.

The next night, BPD received noise complaints from neighbors of Burnett House and contacted Security before speaking with house officers.

“When I walked outside I noticed two guys in plainclothes. They told me they were BPD,” wrote Burnett House President Alex Thomas ’16 in an email to the Orient. 

“They said they had gotten a few noise complaints and had been standing outside of the house for a while observing people in ‘varying levels of intoxication’ walking in and out of the house. They then told me if I didn’t shut the party down and get everyone out of the house in five minutes, I would be charged with disorderly conduct.” 

BPD shut down the event and let Thomas off with a warning for disorderly conduct, according to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.

“The weirdest part of the whole situation was that the run-in with BPD was the first time in the night either Bowdoin Security or BPD had voiced any issue with the party,” wrote Thomas.
Waltz expressed frustration with the timing and nature of these early incidents.

“What was distressing to me was that we had just had training for the house leaders earlier in the week and told them our expectation is that we don’t want them hosting parties for people under 21,” said Waltz. “Now before the week’s out, not only are there people drinking who are under 21, but they’re the very people who are supposed to be enforcing the rules."

Plainclothes and unmarked vehicles are standard protocol for BPD officers on alcohol enforcement patrol. The department regularly receives federal and state grants for the specific purpose of enforcing alcohol laws. 

In 2010, for example, a string of alcohol violations at Bowdoin prompted Communities Against Substance Abuse—a health coalition coordinated by Mid Coast Hospital—to allocate $12,000 directly to BPD in order to increase enforcement against underage drinking. 

Last weekend’s incidents aren’t the first run-ins Bowdoin students have had with BPD this year. On September 3, a 21-year-old female student was approached by a BPD alcohol enforcement detail after purchasing alcohol for two underage students. The matter was turned over to Security and the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, and no citations were issued by the police.

“Students should expect that at certain times of the year—certainly at the beginning of the year—there’s a tone the police like to set to remind the students of what the law is and what the expectations are,” said Nichols.

While BPD tries to allow Security to handle most alcohol violations on campus, Waltz made it clear that the department won’t turn a blind eye to blatantly unlawful behavior.

“We obviously patrol around the campus and if we see people walking around drinking with red Solo cups, we can’t look the other way,” he said. “We don’t go out of our way to make life difficult for Bowdoin students, but if people are flagrantly disregarding the law by having beverages out in the open, or because they’re being loud, or because they’re urinating on people’s lawns, that is going to get our attention.”

Likewise, Nichols says Security does its best to only involve BPD when necessary. With the men’s rugby team’s annual Epicuria event scheduled for this Saturday at Ladd House, Security hopes to deal with any potential problems strictly in an on-campus manner.

“We have a lot of officers working this weekend because of that,” said Nichols. “The idea is that we monitor the events in such a way that Brunswick police doesn’t have to get involved.”

Nichols affirmed that Security is fully aware of the annual event’s notoriety for dangerous drinking behavior, especially given last year’s hazing scandals.

“We had four transports on the night of Epicuria last year, and only 18 the whole year,” he said. “There’s just something about putting a toga on…people tend to act differently than normal.”