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RFPD to be more assertive in downtown area

September 20, 2007

The River Falls Police Department (RFPD) is pursuing an aggressive plan of action this semester. The goal in mind is to allow River Falls residents and UW-River Falls students to coincide peacefully.

The force has decided to increase the number of officers on duty on certain nights of the week, River Falls Chief of Police Roger Leque said.

Although there has not been an increase of disturbances or incidents, the fact that such episodes have been a continuously recurring problem is a concern for both community residents and business owners.

Students may have already noticed the new additions, which were implemented back in April 2007.

Even though the number of complaints has not risen in the past years, the River Falls police force is hoping to begin to see a decrease in problematic occurrences. Reported disturbances have mostly revolved around loud commotion during the late night hours and frequent littering on local neighborhood property. This tends to occur throughout the walking corridors of River Falls in the vicinity of certain houses which host parties.

The police force are on the lookout for behaviors that have been troublesome in the past.  The RFPD will be watching for acts of vandalism, theft, open bottle, littering, assaults, underage consumption, driving while under the influence and public urination. By informing the UWRF students and River Falls residents on what the police force will be enforcing, Leque hopes to reduce citations and incidents. 

“We are trying to raise awareness for the community but we are also holding people accountable for their actions,” Leque said. 

While some UWRF students may argue that the RFPD is targeting the college students specifically, Leque was quick to disregard the notion. 

“We are not focusing on the University,” he said. “Instead we are trying to raise awareness for the whole community.”

Some UWRF students agree with Leque.

“I think that it is not necessarily prejudice against the college students, but I think the plan is good because students will be safer and it’s for the benefit of the students,” sophomore Laurie Cicchese said. 

The hope for this following year is that the citizens of the River Falls community act as responsible and respectful residents regardless of their age, Leque said. 
Stratton resident assistant, Ross Bender also defended the RFPD’s newly implemented plan. 

“The job of the police department is to ensure safety within the community, and if they feel that this is the best way to do so, I agree with them,” he said. “College students can have the privilege of going out and having fun, and doing whatever they choose to do, but if they’re doing things that are illegal or a disturbance to the community, then RFPD should have the right to punish them accordingly.”

In spite of the support for the enforcement’s additions, some students feel as though the police force is focusing too much attention on the minor behavior of students.  Junior UWRF student, David Stanton, is one particular example. 

“I think the cops should be out taking care of real problems, not kids drinking that aren’t hurting anything,” he said. “If they are causing problems or driving, then yeah, go after them but putting more cops out for underage drinking is not a wise use of funding.”

Leque believes that it is a misconception that students feel that the force always seems to be looking to hand out minors. 

“We hope that the UWRF students do not have any negative interactions with our police force,” Leque said. “Unfortunately, when people are under the influence, we have to deal with them at their worst behavior.” 

The RFPD wishes to let River Falls residents and students know that the department is there to serve them, and they encourage questions about issues or concerns.