Police continuing fall patrols for ‘out-of-control’ parties

The ICPD and UIPD are teaming up to conduct party patrols, which aim to ensure quality of life for all students and residents of Iowa City.


Joseph Cress

A University of Iowa Police Department vehicle is pictured.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Reporter

The Iowa City police will continue their annual party patrols this fall, cruising for apartment and house parties that officers deem disruptive to neighbors, in an effort to decrease likelihood of physical harm stemming from out-of-control partying or alcohol consumption.

Because of the proximity of the efforts to the UI campus and its residents, the Iowa City police team with the UI police to conduct the patrols.

“Working in partnership with university police will enhance continuity,” Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly said in an email to UI students. “It sends the message that along with enjoying social events is the responsibility to respect neighbors and comply with laws relating to noise and litter.”

Responsibilities of the party patrol include responding to reports of excessive noise to litter in the street, as well as diffusing tension in strained relationships among roommates or neighbors.

“Sometimes, it’s just friends who have had enough of each other, and other times, it’s people who met on Craigslist and have real problems,” police Officer Rob Cash said. “We talk to students and discuss self-awareness more than anything.”

The primary goal of the party patrols is to educate students and other Iowa City residents about the law and potential infractions their partying could cause before any major issues arise.

“It’s more about education than enforcement,” Cash said. “First, we warn these kids and show them what will happen if they are reported again, such as they could be fined or a letter sent to their landlord.”

Cash said the police are not trying to send a message to members of the community that they cannot have get-togethers, just that they must maintain a controlled environment to avoid conflict among attendees or with neighbors.

“When it comes down to it, we’re looking at safety and medical issues,” Cash said. “We don’t want constant tension among neighbors, and people living in apartments need to understand the concept of shared walls.”

The city established the patrols in the fall of 2010, and Iowa City officers primarily staff them, with some assistance from the UI force.

“[UI police] partner with [Iowa City police],” UI Public Safety media-relations manager Hayley Bruce said. “But we only participate as staffing allows.”

Bruce said all Johnson County law-enforcement agencies have a mutual-aid agreement, which provides that different departments can combine to serve one another’s interests.

“We have a mutual interest in student activities as they pertain to alcohol- and drug-related infractions,” Bruce said. “We have seen success with party patrols in the past and view them as another layer of our community-policing strategy.”

Because the number of Iowa City police officers is based on city population, not including UI students, their numbers are disproportionate to the increase in city occupancy at the beginning of every semester.

RELATED: UISG, Iowa City police try to keep nightlife safe

The Iowa City police not only team with the UI police for party patrols, they often work closely with the off-campus advisory board, alcohol safety, and more.

The Iowa City police prioritize quality of life among all residents, and they contend that no neighbor or roommate should have to adjust their standard of living for others.

“If you’re a resident here, you should be able to live your way without interruption,” Cash said. “Any disturbances should be reported through our website or mobile app, particularly if you’re feeling frustrated and affected by others’ life choices.”