Police enforcement to increase at beginning of Cal Poly school year
Safety Enhancement Zones have significantly reduced unruly behavior in past years, police say
–In an effort to discourage unruly behavior at the beginning of the Cal Poly school year, the City of San Luis Obispo will once again enact a Safety Enhancement Zone, increasing police presence and doubling fines for common misdemeanors, from Sept. 8-18.
An ordinance for Safety Enhancement Zones was approved by the San Luis Obispo City Council in 2013 to heighten enforcement during times of the year known for rowdy activity that poses a risk to public health, safety and comfort. In addition to Cal Poly’s Week of Welcome and the first week of school, the ordinance covers Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day and Mardi Gras.
Specifically, the law allows the police department to double fines up to $1,000 for acts such as noise violations, public urination, deadly and dangerous weapons, unruly gatherings and possession of open alcohol containers in public places.
During the enhancement zone – which begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 and ends Monday, Sept. 18 at 7 a.m. – the Police Department will staff additional officers in neighborhoods. Cal Poly University Police will also be on patrol. Under the 2013 ordinance, Cal Poly police were granted authority to write citations for the above-listed violations and enforce other state and Vehicle Code statutes.
Last year, SLO PD had 99 calls for party-related noise complaints, compared to 178 in 2015. Drunk in public citation were down by 30 (from 51), and urinating in public citations (8) were cut in half.
“We know the beginning of a new school year is an exciting time for incoming and returning students,” said Capt. Jeff Smith. “But not everyone is going to be equally festive, and we have to ensure that the entire community is happy, healthy and safe.”
The Police Department’s Neighborhood Officers will also be going on Walk & Talks prior to the start of school to meet and educate residents living in the neighborhoods adjacent to campus. Safety Enhancement Zone information is also being distributed on campus through social media and through an extensive door hanger campaign in the neighborhoods in the northern parts of the city.