The San Luis Obispo Police Department’s main focus remains on student and officer safety for “St. Fratty’s Day” this Saturday, with increased deployment of police in affected neighborhoods.
This year marks the first St. Fratty’s Day without COVID-19 restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite regulations in place last year, more than 1,000 people gathered for the block party. The parties are held in neighborhoods just off campus — namely the corner of Kentucky Street and Bond Street — which has sparked complaints from citizens throughout the history of St. Fratty’s Day.
Pre-pandemic parties held during the event were the cause of many disturbances and safety concerns, including a roof collapse in 2015, which injured nine people.
“What we really do want is for everyone to stay safe,” SLOPD Neighborhood Outreach Manager Christine Wallace said. “And if they can’t, that’s where we have to get involved.”
SLOPD is utilizing a Safety Enhancement Zone to help keep student activity and large parties under control. Fines will be doubled beginning Friday at midnight until Saturday at 7 a.m. for citations including unruly gathering, noise and open containers.
“We’re making sure that behavior that is super scary and dangerous is addressed as it’s happening, and not waiting until something gets so out of control,” Wallace said.
A proposal to expand the St. Patrick’s Day Safety Enhancement Zone to include the weekends before and after has been put forth to the City Council multiple times since 2015, but has never successfully passed.
“It is a helpful tool for us as it does seem to influence excessive party behavior. So sure, the safety enhancement expansion, if it ever came to fruition, could assist with that,” Wallace said. “We wouldn’t totally know if it was a success until it was done and implemented.”
SLOPD has a history of collaboration with Cal Poly and University Police during events that take place within a one-mile radius of campus. A mutual aid partnership gives University Police the ability to cite city code violations within this perimeter, allowing for more personnel to be present for large events.
“There’s going to be more people working and the goal really is to be in communication,” Wallace said. “Determining who’s available, who’s on shift, who’s taking calls and that kind of thing.”
The Cal Poly administration has also taken steps to promote safe behavior leading up to St. Patrick’s Day Weekend. Messages promoting safety and resources have been sent out via social media, RAs in residence halls, a campus-wide email from the Dean of Students and more.
Cal Poly Fraternity & Sorority Life sent an email to its members outlining police enforcement measures and encouraging responsible behavior while celebrating.
According to the email, there will be plainly clothed officers present, as well as police on foot, in cars and on bikes. There will also be DUI patrols and checks at local stores for underage alcohol purchases.
“We are confident that you will take your obligations as Fraternity and Sorority members seriously and celebrate the holiday responsibly,” the email read.
Campus Health and Wellbeing co-sponsors hydration boxes with Fraternity and Sorority Life for registered chapters as well as those who request them. These boxes contain water bottles, snacks and condoms with safety message stickers.
Fraternities and sororities that wish to hold events for St. Fratty’s Day must receive approval through FSL’s Event Registration Process. After registering, the office’s process and policies for hosting an event with alcohol must be followed.
“For those students who do plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, we encourage that they plan for safe transportation, stay with a friend, don’t leave any drink unattended, eat and stay hydrated and stick to one alcoholic drink or less per hour,” Lazier said.