Quality of Life patrols continue, leads to 26 arrests

The city of Oswego Police Department continued their Quality of Life initiative with 26 arrests last weekend. Of these arrests, 23 were of people between the ages of 18 and 29.

More than half of the arrests were for noise ordinance violations, six were alcohol-related arrests and three were for public urination. The arrests have decreased from the semester high of 56 from the weekend of Aug. 24-26.

The new Quality of Life initiative by the Oswego Police Department was enacted as a response to Oswego residents’ complaints regarding disturbances caused by college parties.

The Quality of Life initiative differs from regular patrolling because the city police department assigns officers specifically to monitor neighborhoods most affected by disturbances.

Although the conflict between Oswego residents and the college students is not new, the recent efforts by the local residents to restrict the D-Bus and to increase police presence in areas with high concentrations of college students have been interpreted by many college students to be a threat to their college experience.

Terrence Gillon, an Oswego State student who was charged with a noise ordinance violation, said he wonders why the police chose now for this initiative. “Why is it that beginning this year, us students are being targeted, essentially hunted down by police patrols? For decades, SUNY Oswego students have had access to parties hosted by independent persons and Greek life alike,” Gillon said.

Whether or not these increased patrols are having the effect the residents hoped for is also being debated. Gillon argues that these quality of life patrols could have the opposite effect.

“It is my belief, though not personal thought or action,” Gillon said, “that many students may create even more neighborhood disturbances just for the sake of retaliation.”

Captain David Lizotte of the Oswego City Police Department, argued that the Quality of Life patrols have been having a positive impact on the city.

“We’ve gotten nothing but positive responses,” Lizotte said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive emails, and even the college contacted us and said they felt we’ve been helping them out.”

Lizotte also stressed that these patrols are not targeted toward students.

“It’s not student-driven, we’re not targeting students,” Lizotte said.

Lizotte also noted that many of those arrested in the Quality of Life Initiative have been non-students, and that they meant to start the initiative before the school year started. Lizotte also noted that although there were 26 arrests last weekend, only one person was actually brought into custody, while the rest were issued tickets.

The importance of the school to the local economy has made relations between Oswego State students and local authorities complex. In fact, the Oswego State community paid an estimated $4.2 million in local taxes during the 2008-2009 school year according to an economic report issued by Oswego State in 2009. This accounts for a significant portion of the city’s budget.

While the entire county of Oswego benefits from the economic activity created by the school, as well as the taxes the school pays, college parties disproportionately affect residents that live near campus.

“Without the college and the economic influence the students provide during the school year, Oswego would be in an even more difficult financial situation than they are already experiencing,” Gillon said.

According to the same economic report from 2009, the economic impact of the college is very large. The report specifies that Oswego State directly employs over 1,750 people, and the economic activity created by the school creates over 5,300 jobs in Central New York. It also estimates that the school has a spending impact of $345 million in Central New York.