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MPD issues noise violations to students
This academic year, the Metropolitan Police Department has issued at least six 61-D citations to Georgetown students for noise violations, according to an email sent on September 24 by Cory Peterson, Area Coordinator in the Office of Residence Life. A 61-D citation is a fine that counts as an arrest on the violator’s criminal record, and would show up on a routine background check such as those required of applicants to government jobs or law school.
MPD reauthorized the use of 61-Ds last January, but no 61-Ds were issued last year.
Neighbors have become increasingly frustrated about the noise levels of students living off campus. Jennifer Altemus, president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, said that other methods to deter noise violations haven’t been effective in reducing the noise levels in the neighborhood. As a result, CAG has been making efforts to bring 61-Ds back into use. CAG recently wrote a letter to Cathy Lanier, the chief of police, to advocate extending the use of 61-Ds to other non-violent crimes, such as open containers of alcohol.
“We think it’s a great option for [the MPD] to have so that they don’t have to actually physically arrest people,” Altemus said. “It takes officers off the street for up to three hours, and for non-violent crimes, I think [a 61-D is] a great option.”
Aaron Golds (COL ‘11), who represents the University in Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said the ANC suggests neighbors call the Student Neighborhood Assistance Program before calling the MPD. SNAP is a hotline available Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights for Georgetown residents to call and alert SNAP staffers of student behavior problems off campus, such as noise violations. A SNAP staffer is then dispatched to the incident to resolve the problem before MPD is involved.
However, Altemus said that permanent residents often find that SNAP to be “unresponsive.”
“[SNAP] is a really good concept, and I think it’s worked better in Burleith than it actually has in [West] Georgetown,” Altemus said.
Altemus attributes the problems with SNAP to a lack of resources and the size of the area SNAP covers.
“I think when they are called and they do come, they do a good job, but I think the residents find they are not as responsive as they could be. And I think that’s from a lack of resources,” Altemus said.
Sergeant David Ruiz, contact for the SNAP program at the Public Safety Deparment, could not be reached for comment.
Anne Koester, Director of Off-Campus Student Life, said that the offices of Student Affairs, Off-Campus Student Life, and University Safety have been working to make students aware of the serious legal consequences of noise violations issued by MPD.
Koester declined to answer further questions about 61-Ds. Vice President of University Safety Rocco DelMonaco was not available for comment, and Stephanie Lynch, Director of Residence Life, also declined to comment for this story.
Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olsen said Georgetown is not interfering with MPD’s issuing of 61-Ds.
“We’re not asking for any special exceptions for following the law,” Olsen said.
Olsen also said that the University has the students’ best interests in mind, pointing out that SNAP tries to warn students when noise reaches the level at which MPD will start issuing 61-Ds.
West Georgetown resident Roberto Coquis agreed that many permanent residents of Georgetown support the use of 61-Ds as a viable means to reduce noise levels.
“We feel that [the police] should be issuing them to rid our community of any noise pollution,” Coquis said.
“At the end of the day all Georgetown residents need to respect each other and live together in our great community.”