No method to the law’s madness

The new nuisance party ordinance has good intent — wanting students to behave safely and responsibly.

The ordinance has another motive as well, to make people who host parties responsible for their guests.

And what of the ability to enforce these ordinances?

Bowling Green city police are able to use their own discretion to classify a party as a “nuisance.” Their judgment could get in the way of college students’ rights.

If an officer even speculates that a person acting in a disorderly manor came from a party, that host can be cited.

This should be alarming to students. Police officers have been given a lot of power to cite parties which mischievous individuals may have attended.

The key word is “may.”

The ordinances vaguely describe nuisance parties as having disorderly conduct, open containers and unlawfully loud noise.

While we are not advocating or condoning these offenses, we wonder how the police department can cite hosts for incidents away from their property. Rather, the individual should be to blame, not the host.

Clearly the Bowling Green police are not the Gestapo. They work to protect the city and its residents. There are no quotas to fill. They aren’t trying to cite x-amount of students.

Still, the nuisance ordinance is itself a nuisance.

While not every student parties, a vast majority of college students party responsibly. The only way out-of-control parties were broken up was when one person called in a complaint to the police. If nobody’s complaining, why should anyone care?

These ordinances could be set up to protect the partygoers, but the method by which patrollers will use discretion doesn’t seem to fit that reasoning.

The BG News questions the gray area of discretion officers may use to cite hosts of parties. Perhaps an exact definition of what constitutes as a “nuisance party” would clear up some confusion. Simply knowing what policemen look for would greatly help students party responsibly.

In the meantime, students should continue to throw safe parties and look out for guests who need designated drivers. Smart behavior by college students could help make such nuisance laws seem petty.

Again, we do not advocate underage drinking, unlawfully loud noise or disorderly behavior. We simply ask the Bowling Green City Council to consider revisions to nuisance ordinances that rely more on provable facts, not officer speculation.