Fort Worth

Fort Worth police cracking down on TCU party problem

TCU says it is working with Fort Worth police to help slow off-campus parties. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall)
TCU says it is working with Fort Worth police to help slow off-campus parties. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall) Star-Telegram

The small hatchback sat in Jean Tocco’s driveway with an oversize can of Red Bull affixed to its roof. At that moment last month, Tocco, a grandmother who lives near TCU, had enough.

“You work your whole life to live in a nice neighborhood,” she said, “and then have it overrun with college kids.”

After weeks of problems, Fort Worth Police Capt. Donald Hanlon informed TCU in an email this month that off-campus parties won’t get off with just warnings anymore.

“We're going to take the approach of arresting any unruly, loud or obnoxious students who are intoxicated,” Hanlon told the Star-Telegram. “The problem is that they're complying [with warnings], but they're making police have to go out and issue these warnings. We don't want them to get to that place in the first place.”

On one weekend night last month, all 15 Fort Worth police patrol units in the west division were responding to party complaints near TCU.

Hanlon’s officers have been flooded weekly with citizen complaints since the start of school in August. The parties, which can mean more than 100 people at one house, are “more frequent and larger” this semester, Hanlon said.

The complaints stem from loud noise to littering to two homes with mechanical bulls in their back yards.

On one weekend night last month, all 15 patrol units in the west division were responding to party complaints near TCU, Hanlon said.

Kathy Cavins-Tull, TCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, who forwarded Hanlon’s letter to the student body, could not be reached for comment.

22The number of public intoxication arrests by Fort Worth police in or near TCU since the semester began.

In a statement, the university said it is working to “coordinate with and support the efforts” of the Police Department.

“We try to proactively encourage students to maintain an environment at their residences that also is acceptable to their neighbors,” the statement said.

More students, more parties

Tocco has lived on South Hills Avenue, a few blocks from campus, since 1996. It used to be a quiet neighborhood.

But as TCU grew bigger — increasing by more than 3,000 students in the last 20 years — homes along Tocco’s street turned into rentals, she said. Further east, where renting was more common, that trend turned into development, with two-story tract homes popping up where older homes once stood.

The night Tocco found the Red Bull promotional car in her driveway, she had to fight through 10 minutes of traffic on her own block. Police had already been called to a nearby party.

The main point is that in a neighborhood, regardless of whether you’re a student, renter or homeowner, we should all follow the same rules

Fort Worth resident Martha Jones

The new police approach is an attempt at a “middle ground,” Hanlon said. He doesn’t want his officers arresting every party-goer in sight, but he wants them to consider that an option, along with writing parking tickets

Fort Worth police have arrested 22 people on or near TCU’s campus for public intoxication since the start of school. Four people were arrested last Saturday, the day Hanlon’s new policy went into effect.

On campus, TCU police officers have responded to 35 alcohol-related incidents since Sept. 1, an increase of 14 from that time period last year, according to the department’s daily crime log.

Disciplinary actions given out in dorms for alcohol violations last year jumped to 769, an increase of 150 over the number in 2013, Star-Telegram media partner WFAA reported.

McGee said it’s uncommon for intoxicated students on campus to be arrested. In most cases, the student is escorted home and the problem stays on campus.

The off-campus parties, though, create problems for non-students.

“The main point is that in a neighborhood, regardless of whether you’re a student, renter or homeowner, we should all follow the same rules,” said Martha Jones, who has lived a block from campus for 27 years.

Before Hanlon’s letter, Jones said, the only thing students had to fear for misconduct was a warning.

“Over time, there hasn’t been any kind of penalty for it,” Jones said. “If they’re always going to get a warning, how is that going to benefit anybody?”

Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7684

Twitter: RyanOsborneFWST

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