By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Funding was cut in half for underage drinking patrols during move-in weekend for college students this year, but local law enforcement officers were busy issuing more citations than last year.
A total of 134 people were cited for underage drinking or underage possession of alcohol Friday night and Saturday. There were 50 citations issued at one house party in the 800 block of North Fifth Street.
“It was a very busy weekend,” said Cmdr. Deb McDermott of the Mankato Department of Public Safety. “This is our first weekend with the students back and we definitely felt their presence.”
A $3,300 grant from The Minnesota Institute of Public Health provided enough funding for officers to work 56 patrol hours around the Minnesota State University campus and other areas in the city with high student populations. In addition to the underage drinking citations, 13 people were cited for violating the social host ordinance and nine people were cited for disorderly conduct or obstruction of justice. Twelve more citations were issued for violations including possession of marijuana, littering, trespassing and fleeing police on foot.
Last year, enough funding was provided for 114 hours of extra patrols during the move-in weekend. There were 105 citations issued during those patrols, so the citations were up about 50 percent even though the patrol hours were cut in half this year.
In addition to the underage drinking party on Fifth Street, another large party was busted in the 300 block of West Pleasant Street, McDermott said. Others were cited while walking between student apartment complexes in the campus area.
Five underage drinkers were taken to a detoxification center because officers believed they were too intoxicated to care for themselves.
The purpose of the grant is to provide heavy patrols during the beginning of the school year to help reduce underage drinking. There will be more saturation patrols coming, McDermott said.
“They’ll see us again,” she said.