By Mike Veneziale
The Borough of Kutztown has started increasing police patrols in town to combat underage and dangerous drinking, according to Chief of Police Craig Summers.
Police overtime is being funded by a $30,000 Liquor Control Board grant awarded to the borough in June. KU also received a similar amount.
With the grant money from the LCB, Kutztown is paying its police officers overtime and putting more officers on patrol during weekend nights, Thursday through Saturday, according to Summers.
The goal is “to cut down on problems associated with underage and dangerous drinking,” Summers said.
However, Summers said the way to change the drinking and partying culture is through the landlords that own the properties in Kutztown.
“If they tighten up restrictions on their leases, as well as stay involved in the activity of their tenants, you will see the problems diminish,” he said.
Steve O’Neil, who has been a landlord in Kutztown for 30 years, said he strives to provide clean and safe living quarters for all his tenants. He said he takes involvement in his properties seriously.
“I don’t see how absentee landlords survive,” O’Neil said.
George Fladeland, executive board member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, said he understood the increased police enforcement. But he added that the fraternity also is trying to police itself.
“We’ve had talks about keeping it down,” Fladeland said. “But you have to learn from the past, we strive to be better gentlemen, better people.”
The dynamic between students living off campus and the permanent residents of the borough has long been a strained relationship, as well.
Ryan Hertzog, who has lived in the borough for eight years, said he has noticed slightly more frequent police patrols, but he can’t tell if it’s reducing alcohol related crimes.
“I can’t tell if it helped,” Hertzog said. “The partying has remained the same, but the noise has gone down.”