An option to register parties in Kent could lead to fewer citations for residents.
During committee meetings Wednesday, City Council authorized a program allowing residents to voluntarily register their gatherings with the Kent Police Department.
"The whole reason for the program ... is to give (residents) the opportunity to straighten up their party before we have to respond," said Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee. "The whole idea is for us to not respond to as many calls and to have a party under control so we don't have to use as many officers."
The gist of the program is that any resident can register a party with at least a two-day notice by providing the time and date of the event and contact information for at least two party hosts. Registrations will tentatively be handled either through the Internet or by submitting a tangible form.
If police receive a noise complaint at an address of a registered party, Lee said, a dispatcher will inform the contacts and give 20 minutes before police will respond.
"We basically give them a 20-minute window to either get the party under control, get people who maybe aren't supposed to be there out and that sort of thing," Lee said.
If multiple noise complaints are received for an address, or if the complaints involve other behaviors -- such as people fighting, littering or urinating in public -- police will respond as normal, Lee said.
While the program is extended to the whole community, it's ultimately geared toward Kent's college-age population.
Lee said the majority of roughly 350 noise-related complaints in 2013 involved "college-age individuals." Police don't specifically separate reports that involve KSU students, though, and not every noise complaint is tied to a party.
Shay Little, Kent State University's associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, brought the idea to the city based off similar efforts deemed successful at other university towns including a program in Clemson, S.C. that has become a model for Kent.
Little said the university will spread the word of the party registrations through campus-tied groups like the Undergraduate Student Government. Lee said the city will publicize the option through social media, websites and periodicals.
After a year, Lee said the city will evaluate whether the program has been useful.
"To be honest, I'm skeptical as well," Lee said. "But ... it doesn't hurt for us to try."
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