Oswego Drinking Party Bust Could Bring Change in Police Arresting Procedure
Feb 18, 2015 05:06PM ● Published by Steven Jack
What’s likely the most amount of people arrested at once in Oswego has the village considering a new way to handle underage drinking charges.
Oswego Police responded to a home in the Churchill Subdivision just after midnight on Oct. 12, 2014 and found an underage drinking party in progress. Eventually 48 individuals were arrested on a variety of charges, including unlawful consumption and possession of alcohol by a minor.
According to Police Chief Jeff Burgner the arrest posed several logistical problems for Oswego Police — the most pronounced being transporting and processing 48 individuals through the Oswego Police station. The task took officers until after noon the following day, and several additional off-duty officers were called in to help. In all, the entire process cost Oswego taxpayers an estimated $5,300.
Burgner said he is working on developing a plan for review by the Village Board that would allow officers to write local ordinance violation tickets for underage misdemeanor drinking arrests. That ability would allow officers to ticket and release underage drinkers to their parents on site instead of having to transport them to the station for processing.
“In cases like we had in October this would make things go a lot more smoothly from an operational standpoint,” Burgner said. “Anytime you bring 48 people into a jail-type setting you’re creating safety risks not only for those that have been arrested, but for our officers, as well. If we would have had 20-30 college kids in here that night with bad attitudes, we’d be looking at a game-changer.”
Currently the Oswego Police have the option of handing out local ordinance tickets for misdemeanor retail theft and moving violations. In those cases, Burgner said the local ordinance ticket is given on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances. A similar ticket given for underage drinking would be approached the same way.
“This would really open up the options as far as what our officers would be able to do,” Burgner said. “There are pros and cons to a policy like this, so we’ll have to see what the Village Board wants to do.”
Burgner said he will present options for changes to underage drinking arrests to Village Board trustees at a meeting in March. If a change is to be made, it would need approval of the Village Board.