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Editorial: Keep parties impartial

Fighting crime is awesome.

Batman proves it. Buddy-cop shows and movies prove it. O.J. Simpson proves it.

OK, no, Simpson isn’t awesome and we don’t support him. But his acting was indeed a crime, and, like him or not, he did graciously put an end to it.

But superheroes, Danny Glover, Mel Gibson and a walking punch line aside, we much prefer the Tempe Police Department’s latest approach to ridding the community of crime: parties.

Following through on the statewide initiative GAIN — Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods — Tempe residents will be feeling a push from police to organize block parties.

We feel that this idea is excellent on multiple fronts. It will go a long way toward getting people to reach out and get to know their neighbors. It will raise camaraderie and hopefully also raise the profile of neighborhood-watch programs. And, we assume, it will be fun.

Additionally, the prospect of actually meeting their neighbors could calm the fears of residents who think the people living on their street are crime-mongering, shady characters. We know it would relieve us to find that our creepy next-door neighbors who we thought were potential drug lords were merely just running a miniature meth lab.

But all kidding aside, we sincerely hope this initiative has the desired effect of increasing vigilance and decreasing crime. And we give our appreciative kudos to police for their efforts to promote it.

On that note of gratitude, we also appreciate that the Tempe Police Department has finally realized what we realized long ago — that parties are actually nifty tools of socialization that effectively assist people in getting acquainted with one another.

Ironically, that same police department is notorious around these parts for having a less-than-sunny disposition toward — guess what — parties.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the Party Patrol hits the town, focusing its efforts on responding to party-related calls.

They strictly enforce the city’s party ordinance, amended by the Tempe City Council in 2003 to drastically extend the period of time during which repeat offenders could be fined from 12 hours to 90 days. Hosts who receive a second notice within 90 days can receive a $250 to $1,000 fine.

According to the Tempe Crime Prevention Unit’s Web site, police respond to “an average of over 7,000 noise complaints a year, 2,800 of which are loud parties.” In this otherwise-quiet college town, it seems safe to assume that the majority of these parties were hosted or attended by ASU students.

But now with other residents seemingly poised to enter the mix of mixers, we’ll be watching to see if the Party Patrol is a little bit more relaxed.

Section 5-30 through 5-35 of the city ordinance defines a large gathering or party as “a social event with five or more persons.”

If these block parties reach expectations and exceed five people, they should have to keep their hoppin’ party as quiet as the rest of us. Any party — ASU or otherwise — deserves the same treatment.

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