Richardson: Tempe police need permanent solutions to party problems - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

Richardson: Tempe police need permanent solutions to party problems

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Friday, April 4, 2014 6:12 am | Updated: 10:34 am, Fri Apr 4, 2014.

"We're very upset about what happened, it should not have happened." --Tempe Police Lt. Mike Pooley in the Arizona Republic on April 4.

Lt. Pooley was referring to the tragic death of Arizona State University Student Naomi McClendon who died after attending an illegal drinking party at a banned ASU fraternity house.

Tempe police released the following press release on April 3, 2014, about the incident.

"Through investigation, detectives have found that Naomi was at a party, 1416 S. Jen Tilly Lane, which was thrown by ASU students referring to themselves as Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity members. That group is not officially recognized by ASU, as they have been sanctioned in the past for various violations. Investigation has also revealed that persons attending the party were charged $30 to enter and consume unlimited amounts of alcohol. However, if you escorted three women into the party the entry fee was waived. This Friday and Saturday night, Tempe Police will once again be responding with increased patrols targeting the geographical area of Broadway to University and McClintock to Mill Ave. Other local police agencies have committed police resources targeting youth alcohol and DUI enforcement. Officers will be monitoring known youth party locations as well as proactively targeting areas where underage alcohol consumption is high.”

Too bad Tempe police weren’t out “monitoring known youth party locations as well as proactively targeting areas where underage alcohol consumption is high” before McClendon was illegally served alcohol and fell to her death from of a ten-story building. Police have reported alcohol is believed to have been involved in her death. Police told the Republic for the April 4 story they raided the party after McClendon left and later fell to her death.

Alpha Epsilon Pi reportedly has a history with police and underage drinking.

My April 1, 2014, column pointed out the growing number of students who are dying in accidents related to alcohol or are being murdered in the “sea of crime” that surrounds the Tempe campus.

The area around ASU can be a dangerous place to be. Tempe has the dead bodies to prove it.

A veteran police officer told me, “Impaired driving and youth alcohol issues have always been serious and ongoing problem. There are simply too many tragedies that involve regular people. It’s the impaired driver or easy access to alcohol that are most likely to harm, injure or kill us or one of our family members.”

Not to mention the attacks on Tempe police officers that are a result of the out of control drinking and criminal activity that to often appears to control portions of Tempe. A Gilbert police officer was killed in Tempe following a drunken driver’s out of control drinking at a Downtown Tempe booze fest.

Tempe has a well known alcohol driven crime problem.

While Tempe officials boast of the success of their Safe and Sober campaign in August and September, they obviously failed to come up with a year around plan to target known groups of illegal revelers and historical trouble spots. The reported resurrection of increased patrols after McClendon’s death is a day late and a dollar short and is also a sad testimonial to antiquated and reactive policing methods.

Until Tempe comes up with a permanent and effective plan that deals with the source and perpetrators of its crime problems, tragedies like McClendon’s death and a long list of other tragic incidents will no doubt continue.

Do the Tempe police chief, city manager, mayor and city council really grasp the seriousness of the crime problems in Tempe?

Like Pooley said, McClendon’s death “should’ve never happened.”

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