Common sense can keep police away

Parties are not prohibited, but police bust a number of get-togethers every weekend. Hosting or attending a party with common sense in mind will keep students from having some unwanted, law-enforcing guests.

Gene Burton, acting director of public safety, said university police officers usually intervene house parties when they get a complaint from the general public about noise or large crowds. He also said officer observation plays a role in determining which parties should be interrupted.

"Each case is just a little bit different on its own merits," Burton said about police intervention.

Officers determine what action to take after evaluating a list of factors, Burton said. Those factors include behavior, noise factors, the size of a party, what is found at the party and if there is a complaint from the public, what that complaint is.

Burton said UPD works in conjunction with state excise police, a special law enforcement division, when they are in town. Indiana State Excise Police officers enforce Indiana drinking laws and specifically target underage drinking.

"People think there are thousands of us," District Commander Tom Newgent told the Daily News. "But really there are about 70."

Excise police travel around the state patrolling liquor stores, events, and parties. Burton said he did not have a schedule of when the excise police are in Muncie.

When excise police do come to town, they check community calendars and local newspapers to find out what is happening on and around campus, said excise officer Monte McMahon.

McMahon said excise officers try to keep a low profile when infiltrating events like house parties. To easily mix in with the crowd, officers dress in street clothes and buy a cup from house parties. After successfully purchasing a cup at the party, he will then make arrests. Officers look for those who are drinking underage and those selling alcohol without a liquor license, which is illegal.

"It's obviously illegal to drink, but we know kids are going to drink anyway," McMahon said. "But the ones who bring attention to themselves are going to get caught."

State excise police bust both large and small parties. McMahon and Burton both said behavior is a major factor in deciding what parties will be busted.

"The ones who stay inside with four or five of their friends, who aren't bothering people and aren't going outside, are not going to get caught," McMahon said.

At the largest party McMahon can remember busting he handed out 50 to 60 tickets.

"If we had our way we'd never make any arrests," Newgent said. "We want to keep kids from getting hurt."


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