OPD to beef up presence on Square

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, August 20, 2015

To make sure there’s no question as to what Oxford will and will not tolerate when it comes to getting drunk on the Square, the Oxford Police Department will be increasing its presence on the Square over the next two weeks.pat patterson 07

A catalyst for the increase happened last weekend during the first few days students started arriving back in town. A female student was pushed down in the street and her purse snatched from her hands. Another woman was so drunk she defecated in the street.

“That’s not Oxford and this board won’t put up with it,” said Mayor Pat Patterson Tuesday. “The next couple of weeks, we’re going to be tough.”

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OPD will execute enforcement details in and around the Square.

“The beginning of the academic calendar is always a good time to establish behavioral expectations,” said OPD Chief Joey East. “We want people to have fun, but we want them to be safe too.”

East said the goal is to be proactive in deterring any disturbances or unsafe activities. Officers will be patrolling the Square on foot, in patrol cars and on horseback.

“They have been instructed to write citations and even make arrests for violations such as open container, public drunkenness, disturbing the peace and any other violations that may occur,” East said. “Patrons who are in doubt about their ability to drive are encouraged to take advantage of the multiple taxi and pedi-cab companies, as well as exercise caution if choosing to walk home at night.”

OPD advises people travel in small groups and not alone. Officers will also be patrolling surrounding neighborhoods to ensure both pedestrians’ and residents’ safety.

“This proactive approach is a direct effort to maintain public safety in a high-volume area,” East said.

University of Mississippi Police Assistant Chief Ray Hawkins said his department will spend the next couple of weeks making their presences known to students as well.

“We’re not really doing any aggressive crime prevention, but we will be getting out and talking to the students so we can get to know them and they can get to know us,” Hawkins said Wednesday. “This is something we do during move-in and first week of classes, to let them know we are accessible and here for them.”

Mayor Pat Patterson