On Sep. 4, GUPD Chief of Police Jay Gruber sat down with the Voice to discuss enforcement of the new open container policy.
Will GUPD be modeling the enforcement of this policy off of the practices of other universities?
I am not currently familiar with the current alcohol policies of our peer institutions.
If you are not aware of any other universities that use this policy, what model will GUPD use to enforce it?
We’re not really following a standard model … We’re trying almost a proof of concept. We know that students can be responsible while using alcohol. I think there is a lot of misconception that students only binge drink, they only drink to get drunk. I don’t think that’s the case. So we want to open up an opportunity for students to prove they can be responsible in the use of alcohol with certain caveats. That’s sort of the model we are looking at here, that’s what this pilot is all about.
If successful, the policy is expected to be expanded to other areas of campus. How will GUPD measure the success of this policy?
It’s interesting. I think the measure of success will be lack of contact with the Residential Living Staff and lack of contact with the Georgetown University Police Department. So it’s going to be very difficult to measure how many of these events take place. We’re not asking for self-reporting from these groups, so one of the only measures we have is where there is negative interaction between the GUPD and the office of residential living and these groups. So if we don’t see these types of contact because the students are following the spirit and letter of the pilot, I think that’s a success right there.
How would GUPD come into contact with students?
Either somebody’s called us to complain, or an officer has an on-site view of someone not following the letter and spirit of the pilot. That’s how they [students] would come into contact with Residential Living or the GUPD, because they are doing something outside of what we expect of them in the pilot. If an officer walks by and there’s some kids with a couple six-packs of beer enjoying themselves and just talking having a nice time, we’re going to walk right by it. We’re not going to interact with them, we’re not going to check ID’s, it’s just part of the normal course of business.
In the past, GUPD has stated it reserves the right to request identification from students who are “obviously” underage. How does an offer go about determining who is of age?
First of all, if they are not doing something outside of the scope of the pilot, like I mentioned earlier… we are going to assume everyone is 21, and we are going to keep going about our business. Once we get called over, once it’s outside of the scope, there’s a couple of kegs, there’s thirty people there, we get a complaint because of the quiet hours, that’s when we would start looking at ages.
Were Village A and Henle chosen as locations for the pilot simply because they are out of the way of pedestrian traffic?
It’s not that they are out of the way, but they seem like natural places for students to gather. We will evaluate at the end of the fall semester with GUSA and the office of Residential Living, and we’ll do the same thing at the end of the spring semester. We’ll look at these pilots and see how they’ve gone, and if they went well, there are possibilities to expand it in the fall of 2014. There’s a lot of opportunities, so that is why this academic year is very important for the students.
In the event that the pilot is expanded to areas such as Alumni Square, where there is a lot more pedestrian traffic, would that affect GUPD’s approach to regulating those areas?
We are only looking at a scope of small gatherings, a few people, not a whole lot of alcohol. I’m not concerned that non students are going to make their way into Alumni Square or Walsh. We’re not talking parties. I am not concerned if and when the pilot expands and maybe outside of the main gates.
So, moving forward, when students approach drinking in pilot areas, they need to be cognizant of the difference between a gathering and a party.
Very important differentiation. My officers are not going to sit there and count people. It’s one of those things where you sort of know it when you see it. We want to encourage students to be responsible. I think they can be responsible and now they have an opportunity to share that.