posted on: Thursday December 10, 2009
By Valerie Ferdon ’12
Asst. News Editor
The rowdy behavior by college students that led to the infamous Operation Red Cup has calmed over the past three months, leaving Elmhurst neighborhood residents satisfied for the time being. Positive feedback was voiced at a meeting held Tuesday night at Capitol Ridge assisted-living center.
This was the first time the community gathered to reflect on the progress made by Providence police and officials from the surrounding colleges. There were security personnel and administrators from Providence College, Rhode Island College, and Johnson & Wales University present at the meeting.
In the month of September, 31 complaints were made to police or councilmen about the behavior of young people in the neighborhood. Since the implementation of Operation Red Cup, this number has decreased dramatically, with only two complaints since October. Moreover, three compliments were made during this time frame.
“Ninety-nine percent of my problems are gone,” said a resident of Tyndall Avenue. “I am very grateful for all you’ve done.”
Another resident echoed the observable improvements.
“There have not been any crazy parties,” said one neighbor. “There have been no drug dealers walking the streets. You have given me my confidence back and I thank you for that. I go to bed at night feeling a lot better.”
The number of arrests has gone down considerably. There were over 20 arrests each weekend between Sept. 18 and Oct. 2, and this number decreased to 10 or less in the weeks following.
Providence police Lieutenant Daniel Gannon reflected briefly on the past three months, explaining the necessity of taking drastic measures.
“We have made some considerable strides, and we hope everyone sees the difference. This neighborhood needed to breathe,” said Gannon.
It was also pointed out that all 102 young people whom the police charged with offenses on weekend nights were disciplined by their college or university.
Providence College was specifically mentioned for the strict practices implemented to address the alcohol situation off campus. The College spends $70,000 a year on police details to address misbehavior in the neighborhood. Security officials accompany city police on investigations of house parties in order to help identify PC students.
While much of the change was attributed to police and administrative procedure, the residents also accredited the students.
“Pinehurst Avenue has been clean and quiet these past two months,” said a member of the Elmhurst neighborhood. “I have seen students make much improved choices. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation for this.”
There was, however, concern with the longevity of the neighborhood harmony. Many residents believe that the cold weather is much to blame for the peace and quiet.
“At the moment, I think students are all snuggled up in their little nests,” said one resident. “The success of the initiative will hopefully be proven when the weather gets warm. That is when we will see the true colors of the students.”
In response, the panel of officers and college administrators pointed out that October was unusually warm, and there were positive results even during that month.
“Each semester brings a new influx of students,” said Gannon. “We have, however, seen a lot of positive energy within student leadership. We will continue to plan future programming to deter such misbehavior in the coming months.”
Gannon explained that the focus should now be turned to how underage students are acquiring alcohol.
“I believe that phase one has been met. Now we have to move on to phase two,” said Gannon. “We will be concentrating on the source of the problem, how students are getting these substances. We are going to investigate liquor stores and bars in the surrounding area.”
They will be taking strides to require every liquor store to scan driver’s licenses to curb the number of students buying alcohol using false identification. Undercover officers will also be sent into parties if there is probable cause of misconduct.
Some potential future initiatives include a neighborhood to promote unity among residents, landlords, student tenants and Providence officials. In addition, there was talk of organizing and a permanent Neighborhood Advisory Counsel made up of police, landlords, colleges, students leaders, residents, local businesses and neighborhood organizations.