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Brookline OK’s law to fine partygoers

Measure targets loud gatherings

By Brock Parker
Globe Correspondent / May 28, 2010

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When Brookline police responded to a call about a loud party in the 1400 block of Beacon Street on April 9, college students inside said they would quiet down.

But the party kept going.

“Within a short period of time they started throwing beer bottles out the window, so we went in there and arrested them,’’ Police Chief Dan O’Leary said.

The party was just one of more than 240 reports of loud gatherings police responded to between Sept. 1 and April 30.

But under a new law passed Wednesday by Town Meeting, O’Leary said police will soon have a new tool to crack down on loud parties.

By a vote of 183-3, Town Meeting approved a plan that empowers police to fine people at loud, late-night parties and, if they are students, notify their schools of the behavior.

“It targets the bad apples,’’ said Nancy Heller, who penned the proposal along with Brookline resident Eunice White.

Modeled closely after a nuisance law already in place in Amherst, the law in Brookline will allow police to levy a fine of $100 against party hosts and guests for the first incident and increase the fines up to $300 for subsequent violations. Landlords would also be fined and held liable unless they are actively working to evict tenants.

The town will also send a notice to the address on the person’s driver’s license.

But some students said the law seems unfair, and the fines particularly steep for college students.

Danielle Campbell, 22, a senior at Simmons College who lives on Egmont Street in North Brookline, said the fines are a lot of money and she doesn’t agree that schools should be notified if a student is fined at a party.

“I don’t think your personal life and life as a student should correlate together,’’ she said.

Selectman Ken Goldstein said the nuisance law is not aimed only at college students and young adults, but at anyone responsible for loud parties. He said that the town has had problems in the past with public alcohol consumption, and people vomiting on gardens and urinating in public.

O’Leary said police would not begin issuing the fines until the state attorney general’s office signs off on the law. That approval might not come until next year, he said.

When the law kicks in, O’Leary said, it will help police clear people out from parties.

“That’s really what people want,’’ he said. “They don’t want to keep getting woken up during the night to deal with this issue. And they have been dealing with it for a long period of time.’’

Brock Parker can be reached at brock.globe@gmail.com.

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