In my 15-plus years with the Sleepy Eye Police Department there have been many changes. We have seen our serious crimes and drug crimes rise. The crime rate usually fluctuates, but one area where this has not happened is with drinking violations.
Now, we find DWIs, minor consumptions, loud parties and bringing people to Detox happens every year. But the rate of these has fallen quite a bit from my first five years to now. I think it is a combination of enforcement, education, and people taking more responsibility for actions, that has helped these issues.
During the first three weeks of summer, it feels like for the first time in a long time, minors drinking and loud parties are on the rise. I thought I would touch on these issues.
Sleepy Eye has a few laws regarding this issue. I would like to use a bit of space to educate on these laws. The first is the Social Host Ordinance. The cities of Brown County have this ordinance, but the county does not. This law states that any person who hosts a party, where they should reasonably know that any underage person will or does consume an alcoholic beverage and fails to take steps to prevent this, is guilty of a misdemeanor. The person does not need to be home to be charged with this crime.
As for noisy parties, it is unlawful for any person or persons to congregate and have a gathering which the noise of disturbs the peace and quiet of another. The owner must immediately abate the disturbance or be charged with this crime. Any Police Officer has the authority to order all persons not living at the gathering location to disperse and leave the property. Any person refusing to leave can be charged with this crime.
I would now like to talk about enforcement.
The Sleepy Eye Police Department has not had many of these calls in recent years. This rise could be partly to blame because of us. When issues become less prevalent, it is natural for Law Enforcement to go easier when they do find a violation. Maybe some of the issue is the Police Department has been too lenient to these offenders in the past years.
I have instructed all my officers to get this issue under control. I have asked that they start charging people with these crimes when we find them. Officers will be writing citations to help enforce these laws. I do not wish for people to not have fun, but everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions. If you choose to have a loud party—speak with your neighbors first. If you are going to disturb your neighbors, please rethink the location and/or size of your party.
As always, please feel free to contact me with issues or questions. I hope everyone has a safe and good summer.