Police Presence Exaggerated

Sophie Davenport, The Growl Editor

Plans were being made early. Posts on social media were being shared, hyping the event. It has been two long years since the student organized event took place. Block party took place once again, after a COVID induced pause, over the weakened. The Bloomsburg community and police were prepared and were ramping up security. Friday afternoon large traffic signs were placed in downtown warning of “heavy pedestrian traffic.” The town’s unsanctioned but Bloomsburg University student planned event was going to take place.

The consensus among students is that those who want to party will party regardless of the consequences. Emily Keyser, a sophomore studying medical imaging, has lived in Bloomsburg all her life: “I’ve seen it, I don’t need to experience it.” Keyser has never attended block party and doesn’t plan to, believing underage drinking is a serious problem during block party. “Things can get out of hand,” says Keyser. The heavy police presence during block party is a good idea, “to keep it [block party] controlled.

Luna Alexander, a current student a BU, says overall students are going to do what students do and “unfortunately it hurts the community.” Alexander believes that it is not the intention of students to cause harm, but it is a consequence. “There’s a way to be smart,” says Alexander. Alexander thinks that the heavy police presence this year for block party is an over exaggeration. The sources that are being dedicated to block party could be used elsewhere in the community, there are other areas in the community that need such sources says Alexander. Alexander made the point that the police don’t patrol or shut down the numerous amount of other parties that take place almost every other weekend during the semester.

Kimberly Speece, a business education major, says she doesn’t attend “things like that [block party].” Having campus offering alternative events (Spring Fest) during block party is a good idea says Speece. Speece mentioned that she will probably be attending Spring Fest. Agreeing that the heavy police presence during block party is an over exaggeration. It is being used as a as a scare tactic more than anything else. However, Speece “would rather have the police doing something than nothing.”

The BU police has greatly ramped up forces, bringing in over 100 officers from Bloomsburg, State Police, and surrounding arears. Chief Police Scott Price gave a statement saying, “my gut reaction is there’s pent up desire coming out of COVID to get out and about.” The reason the police is blustering forces with police patrolling on horse, foot, and bicycle is because there is no way to predict how block party will pan out. Students have been cooped up inside for two years and freshman of last year didn’t get to experience block party. This year the police had helicopters on standby for aerial surveillance. It has been reported that the Bloomsburg Police Department has complied a 50-page robust response plan to block party. The response plan has been created with over 20 years of block party policing experience.

The police are not the only ones that heighted their presence for block party. The local Bloomsburg prison had brought on additional staff to assist in arresting and transporting arrested party goers. The Geisinger Bloomsburg hospital had also increased their staffing for block party and sent “tactical medics” onto to the street to help with possible overdoses and other medical emergencies that might occur.

Ema Gelowski, a junior majoring in communication, says she doesn’t think block party itself is a bad idea but the binge drinking, and local disturbances are the problem. “If it’s a nice day its okay to party.” Gelowski thinks that the inflated police presence is not needed, some police are necessary to keep the peace and make sure fights don’t break out. Gelowski said the police need to “chill a little bit, no one takes them seriously anyway.”

Safety is the top priority. The Bloomsburg police give advice to the party goers and to turn uninvited people away. Party goers should also prevent themselves and their friends from “getting out of control.” Chief Police Price says “at the end of the day, our concern is life safety. The reason we arrest people for underage drinking and open container violations is to thwart some of that.”

Bloomsburg university also sent out an email in advance of block party warning of parking restrictions. The mass email also made clear that BU nor the town of Bloomsburg endorse block party. The email also warns that, “a brief moment of indiscretion can have a significant and lasting impact on employment opportunities; and this is counterintuitive to the goals of the student population to prepare themselves for a brighter future.”